NYCFC hails rookie Jonathan Lewis after wonder strike for first pro goal

New York City FC rookie Jonathan Lewis drew high praise from manager Patrick Vieira and his teammates after scoring with a remarkable strike for his first MLS goal on Saturday.

The University of Akron product gave NYCFC the lead in the 58th minute after receiving the ball near the sideline in the LA Galaxy's half.

He kept the ball under a challenge from Pele van Anholt and evaded a lunge from Jermaine Jones before unleashing a perfectly placed lob from the top of the 18-yard box that flew over goalkeeper Brian Rowe's outstretched arm before striking the underside of the bar and crossing the line.

Vieira attempted to play down excitement over Lewis' future but admitted the forward was meeting expectations midway through his first professional season.

"We need to understand that he's a young player. He needs time and games to develop himself but today he did what I was expecting," Vieira said. "Particularly, he was well disciplined. He had a chance and he scored one of the nicest goals that we are going to see. Outside of the goal, I was happy with the way that he worked for the team."

NYCFC selected Lewis, 20, with the third pick of the MLS SuperDraft this year, but he faced some trouble getting into Vieira's lineup with just two substitute appearances through the club's first 20 games.

But the promising prospect is now beginning to make an impact, starting three of the last four games, with NYCFC winning all three, and midfielder Rodney Wallace said he was impressed with Lewis' resiliency.

"We've all had those difficult moments," Wallace said. "I think he's gone through that. What makes him a better player, a good professional, is that you bounce back from hard moments. You work hard and then you see the fruits of your labor [like he did] tonight.

"He's very competitive and sometimes he doesn't know why he's not on the field. He's asking questions, but sometimes it's just not about him. It's about the bigger picture and I think that he's starting to understand that."

NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson called Lewis' strike "a special goal."

"You talk about a player who's young, who's worked extremely hard to get to a point of starting and contributing to this team," Johnson said. "I told him before the game, 'Look, you've got what it takes. You know that. Keep going at them, keep doing your thing, keep putting pressure on their backline, empty your tank. At the end of the day you know your abilities so when you get on the ball don't be afraid to go at players.'

"You can see the confidence once he started moving and I'm glad he took the opportunity."