New York City 3-1 DC United
United were inches away from bumbling themselves into the lead just minutes into the match. Conner Doyle received a long ball in the City box and tried to chip a shot over Josh Saunders. The keeper got a piece of it, but the ball almost trickled into the net before it was cleared at the last possible moment. In the 36th minute. Chris Rolfe led an attack after intercepting a very lazy Andrea Pirlo pass. Rolfe laid a much better pass off to Alvaro Saborio for an easy tap in goal to put United ahead 1-0 going into halftime.
New York City would then own the second half. They got a chance right before the 50 minute mark that was cleared off the line. Seconds later, they converted off some sloppy play by DC in their attacking end. Pirlo created the turnover and his tackle send the ball to David Villa. Villa slotted a perfect pass to Kwadwo Poku, who danced his way around Bill Hamid to play a simple pass to Thomas McNamara for an easy goal.
Villa would score one of his own to put City ahead in the 80th minute. He fought through some pretty tight traffic on his way to a well placed shot that beamed into the back of the net. Pirlo provided the assist to the Spaniard. Poku would get the insurance goal in the 88th with a great solo effort.
For a while, I was questioning Andrea Pirlo's effort after his ugly turnovers last week and in the first half last night. It seemed that he was treating MLS like a low pressure retirement home. But, in the second half, he came alive with a wonderful pass to set up the Villa goal and some much improved midfield play overall. It is clear that Pirlo has plenty of talent for MLS, he just needs to display the effort that we all want to see out of him.
Even when Pirlo is giving it his all, I am still not sure if he is the missing piece that can save NYC's season. At the moment, they are only a point out of a playoff spot, but there is too much stiff competition ahead of them. I don't think they are better than Orlando City in seventh, Montreal in sixth (who also have three games in hand on Orlando and New York), or Toronto, Columbus, or any team currently in the East playoffs.
United will have to pick up their act if they hope to hold on to first in the East. They are eight points up on Red Bulls, but the team from New Jersey has a whopping four games in hand and can easily overtake DC when all is said and done.