The reigning MLS MVP stepped up in a big way for NYCFC in the contest, which saw the team go down to 10 men early in the first half after Yangel Herrera picked up two yellow cards in quick succession.
New York kept the game scoreless through the half and then broke through early in the second, as Villa unleashed a bit of magic.
Jonathan Lewis got down the left flank and sent a ball back toward Villa at the edge of the area. Rather than settle it, the Spanish striker hit a side volley that may have caught Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson off guard but found the back of the net in any case.
Despite being down a man, NYCFC managed to get another goal in short order as Frederic Brillant headed home his own rebound to double his side’s advantage.
But David Accam immediately pulled the Fire back into the contest in spectacular fashion. The Ghana international struck a rocket from distance, which slammed the underside of the crossbar and bounced just inside the goal line, before coming out.
Both teams generated numerous chances after that, with Chicago unable to finish off a few golden opportunities, including Juninho hitting the post with a drive from distance in stoppage that would have pulled the Fire level.
In the end, NYCFC held on for the narrow 2-1 victory, which brings the side to within a point of the Fire and two behind Toronto FC at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.