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NYC FC Win Over DC United Puts Foot In Door of Playoff House

NYC FC making playoff push.

(Photo credit: New York City FC)

(Photo credit: New York City FC)

 

They said it once, they said it often. It was going to take time but when the pieces were finally together, it was going to be a masterpiece. After all, a lot has been asked of a team that is essentially an expansion team in a high profile city. Add to that the big three signings of Frank Lampard, David Villa, and Andrea Pirlo and suddenly there isn’t much time to present a polished act.

Well, last night at Yankee Stadium, Lampard was unavailable once more. But his replacement, the man from Ghana, Kwadwo Poku, made quite the impression as he jumpstarted the offense and a goal to a 3-1 comeback win over Eastern Conference first place holder, D.C. United.

“Coach said, ‘Get your mind ready, your starting this game,’” Poku shared. “I told him, I’m ready.”

NYC FC has been ready for this all year.

We also had a sneak peek display of what Pirlo and Villa can do on a field together as they both played their best game to date and it was very welcome. The first half was basically the template of the NYC FC season, a lot of bad luck and frustration. DC United (13-8-5, 44 pts), who showed how to jump on opportunity last week by winning a game with one shot on goal, an MLS first, showed it again as against the run of play Chis Rolfe broke away for a beeline down the left side until at the last moment he found Alvaro Saborio who one timed it under Josh Saunders for a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.

But Saunders rebounded to snuff a few more chances for DC, but it was NYC that made foray after foray, funneled through Andrea Pirlo and the hustle of Mix Diskerud and Thomas McNamara who did everything but get the net touched. David Villa was engaged all night but the MLS Player of the month for July was kept off the score sheet as DC goalie Hamid came up big time and time again.

Unlike past games where they trailed at halftime, NYC FC could sense that they were not out of it by a long shot. They had played well in the first half and they would come out blasting in the second half. Poku had a lot to do with it as he often took the ball in midfield and evaded defenders with nifty holding and powerful runs but like the rest of NYC could not solve Hamid.

“We said we still have 45 left, we had a lot of chances,” Poku explained. “We think we can do its just getting it done.” Nix in particular senses the character it takes to comeback often. “It says a lot about the team, helps tremendously with our supporters they just cheer on the whole time and you can hear them.”

Villa started to show the magic as he redirected a ball sharply from his position left of the field into the DC half on the right side as Poku took it and 28,262 fans exploded as he ran away from his marker, dribbling into the box where he faked out Hamid and then fed it to the far left post to McNamara who slotted in it to tie matters.  “We made really good decisions in the second half and executed,” McNamara explained. Andrea Pirlo, who is making impacts with the younger players such as Poku, who he complemented on his skills. “He has incredible physical strength,” Pirlo pointed out. “He is a hard worker and will grow even more.”

It was quite a show from there. What followed was an example of elite level play as Pirlo, in the 80th minute lofted a deadly accurate pass in the air, dropping perfectly in front of Villa, who slipped by the two defenders who were on both sides of him and then blew it by Hamid for his team leading 14th of the season for the Captain. But more important it was 2-1 NYC “I needed to be forgiven for the bad pass that led to the first goal for DC,” Pirlo lamented. “But then Villa was really good on picking up on it as well.” McNamara, among the others continue to be impressed by Pirlo. “You can see the ability Andrea has,” Thomas said. “He plays passes that other people frankly don’t see.”

The cherry on the top was placed with two minutes on the clock and Kwadwo Poku, receiving the ball on the right flank and discombobulated Bobby Boswell of DC and then scorching the shot past Hamid close to the near post. “It was great because I missed a chance five minutes before and I was so mad it was still 2-1.”

The win put NYC FC (7-11-6, 27 pts) a single point behind Orlando City and Montreal for the moment with ten games remaining. McNamara stated it simply, “I would agree we have been a little inconsistent in our results and performances. We have to have performances similar to tonight.”

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