As he walked off the Yankee Stadium field in the 77th minute Sunday, David Villa received a deserved standing ovation from the New York City FC faithful.
After all, the City captain and reigning MLS MVP scored in his third consecutive home opener, tallying twice and setting up a third goal.
About 15 minutes later, the rest of the team got the same treatment after its emphatic 4-0 victory over D.C. United before 24,259 frigid spectators.
City (1-1-0, 3 points) could not have asked for a better start to its 17-game home season. That was in marked contrast to last year when it stumbled to a 0-1-4 mark in its first five home games.
“It was important to win our first home game,” coach Patrick Vieira said. “We did it in a really good way.”
As in its 1-0 season-opening defeat at Orlando last week, the Blues dominated. They were clinical in finishing.
“We played well in Orlando. We deserved more,” Villa said. “Today we are better in front of the target.”
City made fast work of United (0-1-1, 1), rolling to a 3-0 halftime advantage. Newcomer Rodney Wallace, a Costa Rican international winger, converted a Jack Harrison rebound off the crossbar in the eighth minute. Villa headed home Wallace’s left-wing cross to the left corner in the 28th minute before another new newcomer, Argentine midfielder Maxi Moralez, converted Villa’s feed in the 39th minute.
Villa closed out the scoring with a highlight-reel goal, beating goalkeeper Bill Hamid from a difficult angle on the left side of the box in the 75th minute.
“They were much more dynamic in the attacking third,” D.C. coach Ben Olsen said. “Every time the ball turned over, you had two, three guys making real hard runs that put us under pressure.”
When United put pressure on the Blues’ goal, yet another new face, keeper Sean Johnson (four saves), was up to the task. The former Chicago Fire goalkeeper denied Patrick Nyarko three times, including two spectacular kick saves in the 47th and 63rd minutes, to preserve his first shutout.
“Every single decision that he made was a good one,” Vieira said.
Villa also was impressed with Johnson.
“It’s really, really good news for us,” he said. “Not only for the saves, his body language. His body language gives confidence to the team.”
Four goals certainly don’t hurt, either.