David Villa: Ready for a New League, New Club and New Season at Yankee Stadium

Howard Goldin

The sold out English Premier League soccer match on Wednesday evening at Yankee Stadium brought hope of success for the NYC FC, the newest entry in MLS (Major League Soccer) that will begin play in the spring of 2015. The 49,653 that attended the soccer match was larger than any crowd drawn by the Yankees this season. If the management of the NYC FC can build upon that interest, the club’s matches at their home venue, Yankee Stadium, can be a financial success.

As sports promoters well know, winning encourages and grows a fan base and helps fill sports venues. To create what is hoped will be a winning club playing at Yankee Stadium, two of the five players signed by NYC FC are superstars from Europe, David Villa and Frank Lampard.

David Villa, a star striker from Spain, was the first to sign a contract with the new club in New York City. The 32 year-old had been a standout player on several highly rated teams in La Liga in Spain, Valencia, Barcelona and most recently, Atlético Madrid. Villa scored 248 goals in 497 matches. He starred in several World Cups and was the leading goal scorer for the Spanish National team in its victorious 2010 World Cup. He holds his nation’s record for goals in international appearances, 59 in 97 caps.

On Thursday morning, Villa attended a youth soccer clinic with children from United South Bronx FC at Macombs Dam Park, across the street from his new home, Yankee Stadium. He took time to answer questions and speak with the young players. He then answered questions from a disorganized group of the media at the park. He responded in a positive and totally non-controversial manner to all the questions.

His reply to the query of why he would leave a prestigious league and club to come here to be a part of a squad that never played was, “I had a great career in Europe. Now I can start over here. The project and the vision made it a great opportunity.” He expressed pleasure in being on a new club, especially of being one of the first players chosen, “I was attracted by being one of the first players on a founding club.

Villa expressed happy thoughts on playing on the same side as English superstar Frank Lampard, “I’m super excited. He’s a legend.” Perhaps, NYC FC will become a squad of superstars like the New York Cosmos in the 1970’s.

He was also attracted by being in New York City and playing in Yankee Stadium.

“I’m very excited. It’s an honor to play here. Asked if he had any concern of playing on a baseball field rather than a pitch devoted only to soccer, he answered, “I’m not really concerned. It was great in 2013.” He played in Yankee Stadium as a member of Spain’s National Team last year.

Villa spoke of his goals (no pun intended) as a member of the new club, “I will do whatever I can to create a winning club. I know how important it is to be part of a team. I’m ready for the hard work and the dedication. I’m ready for whatever comes my way.”

As someone not familiar with the clubs or stadiums in MLS, he intends “to visit many stadiums and look them and the clubs over “before the new season.”