New York City FC kicked their first ball in anger on Tuesday evening as they beat St Mirren 2-0 in a pre-season friendly
They may have only played on game in the history of the club, but New York City’s 2-0 win over St Mirren on Tuesday night at the Academy Stadium will have won them a few fans from the locals who braved the cold weather to welcome the MLS side into the City Football Group stable.
Manchester City did their best to make the players feel at home, selling hot dogs, giving away free popcorn and waving the flags for club and country with Alicia Keys urging “let’s hear it for New York” as the teams entered the field.
Most of the spectators had come to watch one man, fans before the game were asked who their favourite NYC player was, it was unfair, the only name they had any chance of knowing was the man everyone was there to see.
Spanish World Cup winner, David Villa, took centre stage and the 33-year-old didn’t disappoint. The former Valencia and Barcelona forward was keen to show that the months of work he had put in were not in vain, and he looked sharp and eager to impress.
Often coming deep to link up the play and a number of diagonal passes from Andrew Jacobson nearly hit the mark, but St Mirren held off his advances for 34 minutes.
Left-back Chris Wingert managed to create some pace down the wing; his low cross beat two St Mirren defenders, with Mark McAusland’s outstretched right-foot doing nothing more than helping it land straight in the Spanish striker’s lap.
Villa was not going to let this golden opportunity pass and the forward pounced to finish low past Marian Kello. Although not an official match, it will go down in history as the club’s first-ever goal and it was fitting than Villa would be the man to go down in the record books.
He wouldn’t get a chance to double his tally as Coach Jason Kreis made wholesale changes at half time. Nine different players would start the second period, with another two making it a full house.
With 20 minutes to go, New York City would extend their advantage, and although it won’t make the record books, it was a good to remember. Centre-back Kwame Watson-Siriboe played a perfect pass over the top of the SPFL side’s back line, and Tony Taylor met it beautifully to flash it past the helpless Kello.
It was hard to gauge the competitiveness of the match. NYCFC will be delighted to beat a side that is mid-way through their season, but St Mirren will suggest that a mid-week friendly, against a side that has never played together before is far from their priority.
All the credit has to go to Kreis and his staff, the American side looked well organised, they had a game-plan and they successfully negotiated their first-ever match without looking like newcomers.
New York City now play Brondby on Sunday at the Academy Stadium, and it is a another chance for MLS newest team to measure how far they have come and how far they have to go before the season starts in March.
Alicia Keys sang that the “Big lights will inspire you”, and with NYCFC playing just across the street from the Etihad Stadium, they will hope the bright lights of their sister club and the guidance they will have received this week can inspire them to perform under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium this season.