New York City FC: Three Takeaways from the Home Opener

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 05: David Villa (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 05: David Villa (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) /

Thanks to first-half goals from Anton Tinnerholm and David Villa, New York City FC won yet another home opener in dominant fashion, beating the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 Sunday evening.

After playing their fourth consecutive season opener on the road, New York City FC finally played in front of their home crowd Sunday night, delighting their fans with a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy. Now with six points and a second-place standing on the Eastern Conference table, the Cityzens are in a great position to contend in the East once again. Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s match that easily justify NYCFC’s potential dominance.

Age is Just a Number to David Villa

With an MVP Award and two 20-goal seasons to his name, David Villa has been an integral player in the club’s rise from lowly expansion franchise to perennial contender. However, at 36 years old, there was some concern that the captain may begin to show his age this season. As it turns out, those concerns were completely unwarranted. If Sunday’s win taught us anything, age is just a number to Villa.

Villa showed no signs of slowing down Sunday evening and was a constant headache for Galaxy defenders. The Spain international made several dangerous runs throughout the evening, threaded several dangerous passes through tight windows in the box, and he scored his first goal of the season on a Ben Sweat rebound. It may be too early to assume he won’t feel some wear and tear from the 34-game slate, but right now he looks as spry as ever.  

The Defense is Deep With Talent and Resilient

Thanks to an 88th-minute red card against Sporting Kansas City in the season opener, starting center back Maxime Chanot was suspended for the home opener. There was much speculation as to whether the defense would be able to play at the same level without their stud defender, but as it would turn out, the backline would be just fine without him.

The defense stayed organized throughout the evening and, outside of a 66th-minute hiccup, locked down the Galaxy, especially toward the end of the match. With the Galaxy pushing numbers up late in the match, the defense stood tall and didn’t allow a single shot on goal in the last 15 minutes. Chanot will be back next weekend, but the club showed that no matter who’s unable to play, the defense is deep enough to stop any team they play.

Anton Tinnerholm Looks Like NYCFC’s Best Acquisition

More from Empire Writes Back

Signing Jesus Medina may have stolen most of the headlines, but bringing in Anton Tinnerholm this offseason may be the best move NYCFC made. After a solid debut against Sporting Kansas City in the season opener, the little-known Sweden international was absolutely dominant Sunday evening. Tinnerholm showed good positioning for most of the night and locked down any Galaxy attacker that came his way.

The Swede was also vital to NYCFC’s attack Sunday afternoon, scoring the club’s first goal of the match with an absolute screamer off the crossbar. While the defense was sound last season, NYCFC lacked an outside back who had the work rate to get the job done on both ends of the field. With Tinnerholm, the Boys in Blue have exactly that and should see plenty of success on the right wing going forward.

Match Notes:

  • David Villa has now scored at least one goal in every home opener in club history.
  • New York City FC has now won three straight matches against the Galaxy dating back to the 2016 season.
  • This marks the first match in which no NYCFC player received a yellow card or red card since the 30th game of last season.
  • With the win, NYCFC now has an unbeaten 3-1-0 (W-D-L) record in home-opening matches.
  • The Galaxy are the first Western Conference team NYCFC has played in a home opener.

Next: Assessing the power of NYCFC

Up Next: Orlando City FC, 3/17, 3:30 p.m. ET Kick

Orlando City is off to a poor start to the season, but New York City FC shouldn’t take their next opponent lightly. While NYCFC is undoubtedly the favorite going into this match, Orlando City always seems to have their number. Since both clubs entered the league in 2015, Orlando is a commanding 5-2-2 (W-D-L) all-time in head-to-head matchups against NYCFC. Needless to say, Patrick Vieira’s side may have their hands full Saturday afternoon.