NYCFC’s Kwadwo Poku praised by David Villa, Andrea Pirlo

Each week New York City FC are steadily improving as players — both new faces and old faces — are continuing to get acclimated and more comfortable with each other.

That growing relationship was especially present between David VillaAndrea Pirlo and Kwadwo Poku in the 3-1 victory over D.C. United on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. The trio were directly responsible for all three goals in the win over the top team in the Eastern Conference.

Poku, a midfielder, assisted on Tommy McNamara‘s equalizer in the 51st minute and sealed all three points with a goal of his own in the 88th minute. Villa scored the match winner in the 80th off a sublime long ball from Pirlo.

“With them, it’s easy,” Villa said. “Poku had a great game and did a fantastic job. With Andrea, it’s just easy to coordinate with him. I said it when he arrived; I feel like I have to pay attention because at any given time he sees you and he leaves you alone in front of the keeper. You saw it in the second goal.”

Trailing 1-0 early in the second half, left back Angelino played a ball up the sideline to Villa. The New York City FC captain turned inside and chipped forward a throughball onto the path of a sprinting Poku, who gained possession at the D.C. United 18-yard box. Poku dribbled past goalkeeper Bill Hamid and fed the ball across to McNamara for a tap in.

Poku, who notched his Club-leading seventh assist, scored his fourth goal in all competitions to put the match to bed in the waning minutes. McNamara passed the ball to Poku, who drove at defender Bobby Boswell, turning him inside out before firing home the goal.

“He played a fantastic game,” Pirlo said. “He had done so before against Orlando (on July 26) and against other teams. He is a player I did not know before. He has incredible physical strength and he is growing so well and so much. He works very hard and he will continue to do so and grow.”

The 23-year-old Ghanaian has 17 appearances (four starts) in his debut season with New York City FC and in Major League Soccer. The Club is 4-0-0 when Poku starts and averages 3.0 goals per match.

Poku knows playing alongside decorated veterans such as Villa, Pirlo and Frank Lampard, who was sidelined against D.C. United with a quad injury, will only benefit him as he continues to develop as a professional.

“They have been talking to me a lot, telling me what I can do, where I need to improve and what I can do to come into the team more,” Poku said. “I’m listening to them and I’m doing it. It’s working.”

NOTE: This story first appeared on

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