NYCFC captain David Villa will have another opportunity to represent Spain. (Keith Furman/FrontRowSoccer Photo)
By Michael Lewis
David Villa’s outstanding play for New York City FC has translated into a surprise call-up to the Spanish national team.
The NYCFC captain Friday was tapped for Spain’s next two World Cup qualifiers in September.
It will be the 35-year-old striker’s first call up to the squad since the 2014 World Cup.
“We believe that calling up Villa is necessary and appropriate,” Spain manager Julen Lopetegui said. “He’ll give us extra mobility up front and above all he’ll contribute his enthusiasm. We hope and believe he will help us.”
Villa, who leads Major League Soccer with 19 goals, replaced Diego Costa, who has left off the 26-man squad to face Italy and Liechtenstein.
Needless to say, Villa was elated with his inclusion. He has found the back of the net 59 times in 97 international appearances. He was a vital member of the Spanish side that captured the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
“Very excited,” Villa said on Twitter. “Thanks to those who trust in me to put me back this t-shirt.”
While Spain is tied Italy for the UEFA Group G lead with 5-0-1 records and 16 points apiece, La Roja enjoys a superior goal differential at plus 18 compared to Italy’s plus four.
The Spaniards play at Italy Sept. 2, contest which could decide the group champion, and at Liechtenstein three days later.
Villa has been nothing but the gold standard for Designated Players since joining NYCFC for its 2015 expansion team.
The 2016 MLS Golden Ball winner, Villa has scored 60 goals in 84 matches less than three seasons. He tallied 23 goals last season, finishing second in the Golden Boot race to the Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips.
NYCFC will face the Red Bulls in the final Hudson River Derby encounter at Red Bull Arena Friday at 7 p.m.