New York City has won two straight games for the first time this season and in the process, they have pulled themselves up to fourth in the Eastern Conference. Not surprisingly, David Villa has been at the center of that rise to prominence. But he has not been doing it alone.
Shocking, I know.
Patrick Vieira may have finally discovered a formation that works for the offense. With a front three of Tommy McNamara, David Villa and Khiry Shelton, NYCFC have put in two impressive victories against Vancouver and DC United.
Shelton now has two goals and two assists on the year, but in the past two games, he has really been putting it together and linking his excellent match against Chicago with the potential for a fantastic future.
Against DC, Alexi Lalas said it perfectly when he highlighted Shelton’s potential, but noted that the 22-year old just had to figure out how good he really is. Thanks to Vieira and his own abilities, that process may be moving right along.
Vieira said of Shelton that he just “needs to develop himself”, and that there was a lot still to come. That should bring about nothing but excitement after seeing what Shelton is capable of.
The token capability of the young American winger is his ability to go straight at a defense. Against Chicago, this ability led to a superb (and woefully underrated) goal, where he drove all the way down the touchline to get on a Mix chip, cut inside and just never stopped. There was a lot more of that at RFK Stadium. Shelton, Tommy Mac and Villa combined for some excellent stuff.
It was Shelton’s ability to drive that led to the initial goal for Villa, where a probing Shelton ball found McNamara, who flicked it back to Villa. In Hockey, Shelton would have nabbed an assist as well. The goal doesn’t happen without him.
On Shelton’s goal, we saw another underrated aspect of his game. His aerial ability. At 6’3″, Shelton is not your typical speedy winger. He has the aerial ability of a bruising striker and he used it to wedge between two DC defenders to shoulder a ball into the goal. While it wasn’t exactly something he was trying to do, it was all thanks to his physical and athletic ability that NYCFC were able to go 2-0 up.
The more that Shelton delivers performances like this, the more they will come and the better they will get. It’s the snowball effect. He is learning how good he is and what he is capable of. When he finally wraps his head around all of the talent he has, I fear for opposing defenses.