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After claiming MVP honors, Villa hopes to continue making history in MLS

Sep 17, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York City FC forward David Villa (7) controls the ball in his game against the FC Dallas at Yankee Stadium. New York City FC and FC Dallas tied, 2-2. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports

As a player who has won every major trophy imaginable, David Villa had nothing left to prove to the soccer world when he departed Europe in 2014.

However, Villa himself felt he still had plenty left to do.

The Spaniard’s ambitions took him onto his next journey: soccer in America. And now, after dipping his toes in the Major League Soccer water for two seasons, Villa made his biggest splash yet by winning the 2016 MLS MVP award on Tuesday.

“Today is a big day for me — one of the biggest days in my career — because two years ago when I decided to come here and play soccer, some people thought and said maybe I had come here to find a goal and retire,” the 35-year-old Villa said during his acceptance speech. “I tried every day to show to the people that I came here to be strong and competitive. To show everybody that wherever I’m going in my career, I want to make history.”

The New York City FC captain and forward became the first FIFA World Cup winner and the first Spanish player to win the league MVP award after he compiled a 23-goal, four-assist season, all while leading his club to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference and its first playoffs appearance.

Villa edged out a pair of New York Red Bulls in Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan for the honor with 25.9 percent of the average vote from players, clubs management and media.

“This trophy, it means a lot to me because the community of players in MLS chose me, the community of coaches in MLS chose me and the community of journalists in MLS chose me,” Villa said.

It also meant a lot to Villa simply because he cared about it. This wasn’t some retirement tour for a prolific European player like it had been for some prior in MLS.

When NYCFC struggled, it bothered the all-time leading scorer in Spain’s national team history. When NYCFC thrived, it thrilled the three-time La Liga winner.

“I think David is the perfect (type of) player that you want to bring from abroad because he’s a really humble person,” NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira said. “He played in Europe, he won the World Cup, he won the European Championship and he won the Champions League, but he came to this football club with humility and love for the game and he has time for his teammates… I was quite impressed with the desire that he had to do well for this football club and he really bought into the project of this football club.

That type of commitment translated off the pitch, quite literally.

When Villa first arrived at NYCFC, he relied on an interpreter for most, if not all, of his communications with the media. This season, he handled those obligations by himself with ease, thanks to his partaking in English lessons during the offseason.

On Tuesday, not only did Villa deliver his acceptance speech bilingually, but he also casually dropped the names of Keegan Rosenberry and Jordan Morris when asked about the level of play in MLS, showing his engaged interest in the competition that he’s involved in.

Villa was the deserving MVP this season because not only is he valuable to MLS, but the league is valuable to him.

“This is my first big award in MLS,” he said. “When I came here, all the journalists knew I want to forget about my experience in Europe because it’s a new step playing in America. I wanted to make history in America, too. I’ve always said the recognition of the people is the most important thing to me and this award means so much.”


  1. Along with Keane, one of or the most successful DPs the league has seen. Top notch players, with lots left in the tank when they arrived and great team guys who although they easily could have- didn’t put themselves above the other players and league and have set the bar with hard work and will to win. Villa has been all class across the board.


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