David Villa curled in a free kick from outside the top of the penalty box in the 86th minute to help New York City FC rally for a 1-1 tie with DC United on Saturday afternoon at a soggy Yankee Stadium.
Villa’s shot from above the half-circle went just inside the right post, past a diving Bill Hamid for his 11th goal in 19 games this season. It also was the 74th career goal in 118 appearances for the 2016 MLS MVP and his eighth in eight games against D.C. United.
NYCFC (14-8-7, 49 points) narrowly avoided a second straight loss at home.
Steve Birnbaum scored his second goal of the season and Wayne Rooney garnered his sixth assist for D.C. United (8-11-7, 31) who improved to 6-4-2 since Rooney joined the lineup July 14. Hamid finished with eight saves as the Black-and-Red moved within five points of sixth-place Montreal (11-14-3, 36) for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Rooney had a chance for his fifth goal in 12 appearances for the Black-and-Red in the third minute but his bicycle attempt from the middle of the 18-yard box sailed right of the net.
NYCFC dominated possession after that, attempting eight shots in the first 30 minutes, including three on target. The best chance came in the 27th minute when defender Alexander Callens, cutting toward the goal, headed a crossing pass from Eloi Amagat wide of the net from the middle of the six-yard box.
D.C. United did register a shot on target until the 58th minute when Birnbaum headed in a long free kick from midfield by Rooney, cutting in from the right side in front of goalie Sean Johnson to knock the ball into the net.
NYCFC had possession for 68.4 percent of the game and attempted 31 shots, nine of them on target, compared with two shots for D.C. United, but the team couldn’t break through until Villa’s late equalizer.