CHESTER, Pa. — When David Villa floated home a 50-yard chip shot over reigning MLS goalkeeper of the year Andre Blake for a stunning MLS goal of the year candidate on Friday night, there was a little sense of deja vu for those who remembered him attempting the same shot last year against the same team. That attempt, at Yankee Stadium some nine months ago, rattled the crossbar.
On Friday, Villa's long-range aim hit the mark perfectly, catching Blake off his line and floating just underneath the crossbar to seal a 2-0 victory for New York City FC.
"You can chalk that one up to David Villa seeing the game a little differently than most people," Union coach Jim Curtin said. "Obviously it's a tricky one when you're running full sprint back to your goal. It's an uncomfortable situation for a goalkeeper, but for (Villa) to see that and shoot from that distance that early it caught him off guard.
"Special, special goal for sure."
Villa raced onto a loose ball near midfield, beating Union rookie Jack Elliot to the ball before unleashing a right-footed shot that floated over Blake's head in the 90th minute, kicking off a celebration with his teammates as stunned Union fans reacted in disbelief.
"Any time you score a goal you're always happy and proud. Even more when it's a goal that's hard to score," Villa said after the match. "It isn't every day you score a goal like that."
The fact Villa even tried the shot may have come as a surprise, but the Spanish striker admitted fatigue might have led to the gamble.
"There were two options, either to keep running because I knew I was alone, or hit it from there, I was a little tired so decided to hit it," Villa said.
Villa also remembered his attempt at the same shot a year ago against the Union.
"It was funny because I tried it in the last game against Philadelphia too, against this amazing keeper too," Villa said. "I put the ball on the crossbar, because it was a great shot, but the ball hit the crossbar. And today, finally I get the goal."
"It's one of those moments that you imagine when you hit it you've hit it well."
Villa was more interested in talking about his team's performance on Friday, which saw NYCFC post a shutout and outplay the Union a week after a lackluster showing in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United.
"It's really good because we didn't play well the other day in Washington," Villa said. "Today we had a challenge to show people we made a mistake in D.C. and we recover this mistake today here in Philadelphia.
"More than the three points, which is really important, is the attitude of the team from the start," Villa said. "We controlled the game, we created more chances, we defended very well? We defended set pieces very well against s great team on set pieces? And finally we scored two goals so we are very happy for the day."
As impressive as NYCFC's overall performance was, all anyone wanted to talk about after the match was Villa's long-range strike, which wasn't the first time in his career he scored a goal from that far out. More than a decade ago, Villa hit one from near the midfield stripe for Spanish club Valencia against Deportivo La Coruna.
Villa's long-range strike was made even more shocking because of the night Blake had been having in goal. He was one of the few bright spots on the night for the Union, making a handful of key saves to keep his side in the match.
"We played against one of the best keepers in the league. He did well, because if not for him we score before," Villa said. "In the first half we had chances that he saved."
"The truth is he's a great goalkeeper, he's one of the best in the league, and it's even sweeter to score a goal like that against a great goalkeeper.