Los Angeles (AFP) – New York City FC defeated MLS Cup champions the Portland Timbers 2-1 as Patrick Vieira’s resurgent side marched towards the top of the Eastern Conference standings. 

Goals from former Spain international David Villa and American midfielder Tommy McNamara secured a third consecutive victory for City after Portland’s Fanendo Adi had equalized.

The victory was easily the biggest win of new manager Vieira’s reign.

The former France international midfielder had endured a rocky start to his managerial career in New York after joining from the backroom staff of parent club Manchester City.

But after a run of only one win in eight games, City have now recorded three straight victories, catapulting them to within whisker of first place in the Eastern Conference.

City are now level on 16 points with conference leaders the Montreal Impact after 11 games, and only trail by goal difference.

Montreal’s goal difference is plus two; City’s stands at plus one.

City took the lead on Sunday through World Cup winner Villa’s opener in the 12th minute, latching on to defender R.J. Allen superb through ball to calmly tuck away his finish.

Adi however drew Portland level on 55 minutes with a cool finish, lifting his shot over City keeper Josh Saunders to spark wild celebrations at the Timbers’ rainswept Providence Park stadium.

But Portland’s hard-earned parity was short-lived, and City’s lead was restored 10 minutes later when former Italy and Juventus star Andrea Pirlo found McNamara in space on the edge of the penalty area.

The 25-year-old midfielder looked up and took his time before curling a wonderful shot up and over the diving Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson to score.

Elsewhere Sunday, Houston Dynamo bounced back from a disappointing midweek defeat to beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Giles Barnes scored the game’s only goal on 65 minutes.

In the other Major League Soccer game on Sunday, Sporting Kansas City came from behind to beat Orlando 2-1.

Dom Dwyer and Jacob Peterson scored Sporting’s goals after Orlando took the lead through a Jimmy Medranda own goal.