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David Villa shines in NYC FC win over New England

New York City FC forward David Villa (7)

New York City FC forward David Villa (7) celebrates after scoring the first goal for New York City FC against the New England Revolution at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, March 15, 2015. Credit: Steven Ryan

The last time a home-team player wearing No. 7 got the Yankee Stadium crowd this energized was back in the days of The Mick.

David Villa has a very long way to go to duplicate the astounding feats of the late, great Mickey Mantle, but the New York City FC star certainly got his career at the Stadium off on the right foot Sunday.

The Spanish striker put on a virtuoso performance, connecting for a brilliant goal and setting up an insurance tally to lead the expansion team to its first win, a 2-0 victory over the 2014 MLS Cup finalist New England Revolution in its home opener.

"He looked terrific," Babylon native and NYC FC defender Chris Wingert said. "He was buzzing today."

Villa entertained an enthusiastic crowd of 43,507 -- the fourth largest for soccer at the Stadium and most for a league match -- that braved cold and windy conditions.

"Of course, everybody dreams and thinks about what this type of opportunity could look like and what this match could look like," coach Jason Kreis said. "I would say it fulfilled my dreams. You couldn't ask for a better result against a very good team. We couldn't ask for better support from the crowd."

Or a better performance from his most important player.

Villa, a member of Spain's 2010 World Cup championship side, took center stage in the 19th minute with the help of Ned Grabavoy, who led him with a pass on the left side. He passed it back to Grabavoy, who quickly gave it back, and Villa curled a 12-yard, right-footed shot into the far corner past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

"Once he was in that tight, I felt very confident that he was going to bury that," Wingert said. "He's not missing too many of those."

Villa, the captain, turned questions about himself into praise for his team. "We're still growing as a new team," he said. "We are delighted. We could have scored more goals in the second half."

Villa turned playmaker in the 84th minute. He raced down the left wing and sent a feed to Patrick Mullins, and the ex-Revs midfielder slotted it home with his first touch from three yards. Mullins had replaced Adam Nemec only 35 seconds earlier.

"It's very simple. We have a very special player named David Villa," Mullins said. "We make good runs and he's going to find us. If we put it away, we're going to score a lot of goals this year."

Two goals were enough for a memorable home debut.

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