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Takeaways, Player Ratings from NYCFC’s Home Opening 4-0 Victory Over D.C. United (Highlights)

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Takeaways and player ratings from NYCFC’s 4-0 home-opening victory at Yankee Stadium against D.C. United on Sunday.

New York City Football Club’s season opener at Orlando was a frustrating affair. Despite higher possession and better chance creation, City were stifled and fell 1-0.

That was certainly not the case in their home opener — the Blues took the lead after eight minutes and never looked back, thrashing DC United 4-0 in front of a beaming Yankee Stadium crowd.

Here are three takeaways from NYCFC’s first victory of the 2017 campaign, as well as player ratings for all the Blues that took part in the action.

The New Guys Were Exceptional

Seven City players made their home debuts in today’s game: Sean Johnson, Maxi Moralez, Alexander Callens, Rodney Wallace, Alexander Ring, Sean Okoli and Yangel Herrera. Several made massive impacts on the final result.

Moralez and Wallace each tallied one goal and one assist. Alexander Callens put on yet another terrific display at the back — he was sturdy in possession and made several key tackles in his own 18-yard box. Sean Johnson made four saves, including three crucial one-on-one saves at the beginning of the second half.

Like I mentioned last week, it takes time for the new boys to adjust to a different atmosphere, system, and philosophy. Today, NYCFC’s offseason signings looked right at home at Yankee Stadium.

The MVP is back

There must be something about David Villa and home openers. The Spaniard has scored five goals in NYCFC’s past three, including braces against Toronto FC last season, and now DC United this season.

After an underwhelming performance against Orlando City FC, captain and reigning MLS Most Valuable Player David Villa stole the show against DC United, scoring twice and assisting another. Villa thrives on service, and today, he got it — a terrific cross from Rodney Wallace found Villa for his opening goal, and Maxi Moralez delivered the incisive ball for Villa’s second.

The Spaniard’s second goal was a gem in its own right; Villa toyed with his defender inside the box, before squeezing a left-footed strike inside Bill Hamid’s near post to well and truly seal the game.

Villa was 2nd in MLS last season with 23 goals, and he’s off to a strong start in his third campaign.

The Defense Weathered the Storm

DC United barely threatened NYCFC in the first half, but they came out swinging to start the second half. The visitors dominated possession, pinned NYCFC in their own half, and forced several key saves out of Sean Johnson.

“I think we expected them to come out early in the second half, and come out with a fire lit underneath them being down 3-0,” said Johnson post game. “They really had nothing to lose, throwing numbers at us, and I think we did well.”

All 4 members of the backline had strong showings — Mattarita made several key interceptions and was terrific going forward. Ethan White, the only lineup change made by manager Patrick Vieira from the opening game, was solid at right back. Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens made several key defensive plays, but most importantly, helped NYCFC build from the back and dominate possession.

In previous years, when NYCFC came under pressure, they folded. In this game, they did not– they were able to weather the storm, reestablish control of the game, and add a fourth goal to well and truly seal off the match.

NYCFC Showed Why They are a Title Contender

From the get go, the Blues were irresistible going forward and were solid at the back as well. The new guys clicked, the defense was able to keep DC United at bay, and the team as a whole put four goals past star keeper Bill Hamid.

Last week, NYCFC were dominant, but lacked their killer instinct. This week, the killer instinct was abundant.

Player Ratings: 1-10, 10 being the highest

Sean Johnson, GK: 8.5:

NYCFC’s No. 1 made several massive saves early in the first half, including three from point-blank range. However, the magnitude of the saves (NYCFC were already up 3-0) make them less pivotal. A fine overall display.

Ethan White, RB: 7.5:

White was solid in his 2017 debut, replacing RJ Allen in the starting XI. Nothing flashy, but the defender did well to avoid being beaten on the left flank.

Alexander Callens, CB: 9:

Callens was terrific again, dominating possession for his club and looking composed as ever out of the back. He made several huge clearances on the goal line, including one to deny Patrick Mullens, and one to deny Ian Harkes a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Maxime Chanot, CB: 8:

Chanot made one glaring mistake, letting Patrick Nyarko get behind him and in on goal, before eventually being foiled by Johnson. Otherwise, Chanot was terrific, especially in possession.

Ronald Mattarita, LB: 8.5:

The Costa Rican was lively as ever on Sunday, making several important interceptions and finding himself in great positions moving forward.

Alexander Ring, CM: 7:

I wanted to give Ring a better rating for his aggression and effort, but he made several poor touches that put NYCFC in compromising positions against the DC United counter attack. Ring needs to be more comfortable on the ball, especially given his pivotal role of covering for Andrea Pirlo’s defensive deficiencies and protecting the back 4.

Andrea Pirlo, CM: 6.5:

It wasn’t the Maestro’s day. Most of Pirlo’s deliveries were poor– his two corners didn’t make it past the first man, his free kick was right at Bill Hamid, and all of his long passes were intercepted. I’m of the opinion that Yankee Stadiums narrow field is the worst place for Pirlo to play, and the wind didn’t help either. The Italian will have better days for the club.

Jack Harrison, RM: 8:

Harrison was NYCFC’s best player in the first half– his dazzling one on one ability was evident, as he beat his man and fired off the post, allowing Rodney Wallace to tap in the early goal. Harrison was at the center of NYCFC’s link up play throughout the match and made two key clearances on defense as well. The Englishman was unlucky not to get a goal or assist, although he practically assisted the opening goal.

Rodney Wallace, LM: 9:

It was a dream home debut for Rodney Wallace, who scored and assisted from the left side. His goal was simple enough, as he tapped into an open net following Harrison’s shot deflecting off the post. However, his assist was terrific, as he delivered a beauty of a cross to Villa in the box. His linkup play with compatriot Ronald Mattarita on the left flank was also splendid.

Maxi Moralez, CAM: 8.5:

This is why the Argentine is NYCFC’s third designated player! Moralez was fantastic all game long, wiggling through midfield traffic. Like Wallace, he also nicked a goal and an assist in his home debut, and also contributed defensively as well.

David Villa, ST: 9.5 (Man of the Match):

2 goals and an assist for the MVP, who was electric all game long. What a performance by the talisman, who rightfully got a standing ovation as he exited.

Sean Okoli, Yangel Herrera, and Tommy McNamara: N/R:

The three substitutes didn’t provide much going forward, although McNamara pulled off a slick nutmeg in the second half.


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Staff Writer at Elite Sports New York. Lead Writer at New York Sports Hub and My Weekly Sports. Twitter, instagram: @skylardarel. Avid fan of the Yankees, Knicks, Giants, New York City FC, FC Barcelona, and Arsenal FC. Sophomore at the College of New Jersey, studying Communication. Aspiring play-by-play commentator. Grew up in Manhattan, and proud to know how to work the Subway system.