No Villa, no victory.
Now, that might be a rather simple way to explain New York City FC's 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City Saturday night. But let's face it, David Villa is not only be the face of the team, he is also owns the most important feet.
Villa, who enthralled the Yankee Stadium crowd in the team's home opener, watched the game among the soccer-sellout crowd of 27,545 who sat and watched in frustration on a bitterly cold night.
The loss was NYC FC's (1-1-2, five points) first in the expansion team's history, falling out of first place as the rival Red Bulls (2-0-1, seven), 2-1 victors in Columbus, took over the Eastern Conference lead.
Villa has been week-to-week with his adductor injury, but he told coach Jason Kreis Friday he could not play.
"He managed through the pain and swelling," Kreis said, adding that Friday was the first time, "the pain is too unbearable. We believe strongly with a week off he will do strengthening and physical therapy and be ready for the Philadelphia match ."
NYC FC also was hampered because forward partner David Nemec was on international duty with Slovakia and understudy Khiry Shelton playing with the U.S. Under-23 national team. Their replacements, Javier Calle and Patrick Mullins, were ineffective.
KC struck for the lone goal in the 12th minute as Ike Opara outleaped Kwame Wastson-Siriboe and headed Matt Besler's throw-in home past goalkeeper Josh Saunders.
"The throw-in was inch perfect," Kreis said.
The hosts thought they should have been awarded a penalty kick after the ball touched the hand of defender Seth Sinovic. Referee Edvin Jurisevic conferred with assistant referee Brian Dunn. No penalty was called.
"I've been a proponent of referees doing everything to try to get the call right," Kreis said. "If that means taking their time discussing it with people in order to get it right, I have to be a proponent of that. I would have loved for him to have made the call and ignore everybody else. My hope would be that it comes to our benefit sometime later in the season."