Goalless Villa Still Makes Impact With Spain Recall

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

NYCFC logoHARRISON, N.J. — He was held goalless for New York City FC Friday night but David Villa still made an impact on the league he plays in. Earlier Friday, Villa became the first player playing outside of Europe to receive a recall to the Spain‘s national team.

“Last night they called me and explained that I would be included,” Villa said after the 1-1 draw against the Red Bulls. “It’s a fantastic day because really I found out last night, I slept well and then I had a ton of messages today. I knew I had to try really hard tonight with New York City because I was going to leave but I didn’t have time to respond to all the messages so excuse me but I wanted to thank everyone for the support.”

Villa will return to La Roja for the first time since the 2014 World Cup for the World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Lichtenstein. With Spain, he has the opportunity to add to his record 57 goals and further the team’s lead atop its group. As the end of qualifying nears, Villa could help secure a place in next year’s World Cup for his country.

“I get to do what I’ve been doing all my life,” he said. “I get to put on my national team’s jersey and I have to give all that I have to help the team. It’s the most important thing since we have two difficult games starting with the one against Italy. We need to win to secure qualification for Russia.”

Villa recorded his ninth assist in Friday night’s game, the most he’s had in MLS. He said he knew Friday night’s game would be difficult but was proud of how the team defended. On that end, City’s performance reminded him of their win against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

“We can’t always dominate,” Villa said. “There are many times where we try to play our style but our rival prevents us and times where they will have the ball so it’s important for us when that happens to respect it, work together and know how to suffer so we don’t concede and then find a way to get out.”

For Major League Soccer and NYCFC, Villa’s recall is being celebrated as a sign of that the rest of the world holds their players and competitiveness in high esteem. Speaking with WFAN before the game, Coach Patrick Vieira said Villa earned the recall from Julian Lopetegui with his performances over the past two years. Vieira added that Villa’s call-up shows young players that they can come to MLS and remain involved with their national team.

“I think David going back to the national team just shows that you can make a decision to come to MLS and still have a big ambition, still have a chance to play for your national team,” Vieira said. “I think it will open doors for young international players and experienced international players. The league is competitive. Coming here, you will still have a chance to keep your place on the national team. This is a massive step forward for MLS.”

Villa agreed, adding that just because he’s in MLS, it doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly not the player he has been throughout his career. It’s logic he hopes other national team coaches employ when making their selections.

“This is the first time I was called up with New York City but it’s just like if I were at Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Zaragoza or Sporting, nothing has changed,” Villa said. “There are small differences but I still wake up in the morning, drive to training and play the games like I’ve been all my life. It’s a little farther from my home than before but it’s the same. I’m glad they recognized that I’m still playing at a high level even if it’s outside of Europe. It’s important for me, for MLS and for the recognition that this league wants. It’s important for the league to show people that it’s improving. It’s a young league and it wants to quiet a lot of doubters.”