David Villa: “I am fit and I can do things on the pitch – I’m not ready to go to the sidelines.” (USA TODAY/Sports)
By Michael Lewis
David Villa will be back for more in 2018.
The reigning Major League Soccer MVP and Spanish international striker has agreed to a contract extension that will keep him tied to the New York City FC through the end of next season.
Villa, who has captained the third-year expansion team since it kicked off in 2015, has been the heart and soul of the team.
“Three years ago, we started a very good project to build this amazing club and they chose me to be the first captain which I’m still so proud of,” he said in a statement at NYCFC.com “When I look back to those first days in 2014, it’s really amazing to see how far we’ve come in such a short space of time and to know that there is so much potential for us to continue growing, on and off the field.”
The 35-year-old Villa has scored 46 goals and assisted on 15 others in 70 matches for City, including five goals and three assists this season.
“I’m so happy here in this city and at this club,” he said. “I am fit and I can do things on the pitch – I’m not ready to go to the sidelines.
“That’s why continuing here and signing this contract was a really easy decision for me.”
Not surprisingly, head coach Patrick Vieira was pleased Villa will return for at least one more season.
“It’s really good news for me, it’s good news for the club and it’s good news for David, especially when you look at the way he’s been playing and the amount of goals he’s scored,” he said. “The club wanted to give him another year and he wanted to stay for another year. All of the parties are really happy and I’m personally really pleased that he will be with us for that time.”
Villa missed City’s 3-2 win at Columbus Crew SC due to illness.
NYCFC will host Atlanta United at Yankee Stadium Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Back in January …
At MLS media day in Manhattan Beach, Calif. in January, this reporter asked Villa on whether he was considering retiring.
“I don’t know. I think in the present,” he answered. “The short [term] I am very comfortable.”
He later added: “The people in the last year are talking about me that I had a great season, scored 23 goals, won the MVP and four assists. But the most important thing for me in the last year was that i lost only one training. it was my first time i don’t have an injury during the year. And this is my best year last year. I was fit, I was very comfortable in each game, in each training.”
At an age where many strikers are slowing down, 35-year-old has been defying father time.
Mid-thirties is a precarious age for most strikers, when years of running and pounding from opposing defenders finally catch up to them. And as we all know, losing a half a step here or there can be devastating for the strike rate of someone who is supposed to fill the net, turning the most brilliant of strikers into ordinary ones.
No one needs to remind the Spanish World Cup winner that he has to change to his preparation prior to games. It’s part of the natural aging process, no matter what position a player might play.
“With the passage of time, you put more games in your body, you put time of soccer and you sacrifice your body and you need to rest better,” he said.
As the new year dawned, Villa added he had tried to rest a little more but to train as well. He stayed in touch with his personal and City’s physical trainer.
“They know my body really well in my career,” he said. “I stay in touch with the physical trainer with NYC FC for … a better plan for me.”
Villa said he will emphasize more rest, more sleep and eat well. He did not give any details of his eating habits.
“I am not looking at age, I am looking at a lot of games in my body [has] played. I need to rest, to sleep … because of the passage of time.”