NEW YORK — David Villa is having an MVP-type season, with 17 goals and two assists to his name thus far to help lead New York City FC to the brink of a playoff spot.
As good as he has been in 2016, Villa still sees room for improvement. Particularly when it comes to playing on turf fields.
Villa is nearly two full years into his MLS tenure, and has been one of the most productive forwards in the entire league during that stretch. He has netted a combined 35 goals thus far and added 10 assists, a good return on his Designated Player value that has proven that he still has plenty to offer despite getting up there in age.
If there is an area in which Villa has struggled, however, it is on turf fields. Th 34-year-old striker has found the back of the net just once and recorded zero assists in the five games NYCFC has had on artificial grass this year, and that lone goal came back in May against the Portland Timbers. Interestingly enough, he had the exact same output in four matches on turf in his first season in the Big Apple.
With the postseason looming and games on artificial surface a possibility, Villa knows he needs to raise his level when playing on fake grass and black rubber pellets.
“For me it’s more difficult, obviously, because I’m not used to playing on turf fields,” Villa told SBI. “I’ve always said the same thing, however: the conditions are what they are. You have to adjust to them, and I just need to get better when I play on turf fields.”
The good news for Villa is that NYCFC’s remaining regular season schedule is void of any more games on turf. There is a chance, of course, that he could play on synthetic surfaces in the playoffs, especially with Orlando City and the New England Revolution fighting to earn their spots above the Eastern Conference’s red line.
Nonetheless, Villa should have ample opportunity in NYCFC’s last four games on grass to add to his case for the MLS MVP award. Right now he is battling Toronto FC playmaker Sebastian Giovinco and New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips for the accolade, which would be nice to win but is something the Spaniard is not focusing on.
“Honestly, I don’t think about it,” said Villa about the MLS MVP award. “I think about the effort from the collective group, which is what has taken me to where I am now. In the end, it’s a good thing for the club if one of its players can win an individual award, but the most important thing for everyone is to be in good standing as a team.”
Villa’s continued high level of play raises the question of how much longer he thinks he can play. There is no concrete answer right now, however. Only signs that indicate that he still has plenty left to offer.
“I don’t know. I want to take it day by day. Right now I’m fine,” said Villa. “This year has been better than the first one for me. I haven’t been injured up to this point, so hopefully I finish the season this way. That says a lot about where I’m at physically, and that I’m in good health and can hopefully continue like this.”