David Villa, our captain and human highlight reel, has been recalled to the Spanish National Team for the first time since announcing his retirement from international duties in 2014.
Villa is Spain's all-time leading goal scorer with 59 in 97 appearances. Following his 2016 MLS MVP award with a Golden Boot-leading campaign this season, Spain coach Julen Lopetegui believed that Villa deserved a place on their 26-man roster for upcoming matches with Italy and Lichtenstein.
“We felt we needed him now and we think he will help us. He is having magnificent performances with his team and he is very motivated” said Lopetegui on Villa’s selection.
"It's true that he comes from a different league [MLS] but that is the way it is. I have spoken to David and we have seen him play.”
"As always, Villa brings determination, ambition and experience. We are confident he can help us."
The choice may come as a surprise to many in the footballing world as MLS players have been blacklisted by many European national team coaches as the league is widely-viewed as having a lower competition level than those overseas.
If any MLS player is deserving of a national team call up, though, it is El Guaje. After winning the MVP award last year carrying the NYCFC squad into it’s first playoffs, many thought that Villa had reached his ceiling in New York. Always one to work hard and score goals, Villa is on pace this season to surpass his scoring mark from last year and the team is set up for a deeper playoff run in 2017.
Losing the team captain for some time will provide a massive challenge for Patrick Viera and his squad, but the team has shown an ability to perform without it’s star’s this season regularly battling through injuries and suspensions. The sudden rise of Jonathan Lewis and return of Rodney Wallace should allow for NYCFC to continue scoring goals, and the loss could allow some other bench players to see the field and prove their mettle.
Spain Squad: September World Cup Qualifiers
GK: De Gea, Reina, Kepa
DF: Jordi Alba, Azpilicueta, Bartra, Carvajal, Nacho, Monreal, Pique, Ramos
MD: Isco, Thiago, Busquets, Suso, Silva, Iniesta, Saul Niguez, Koke, Asensio
FW: Aspas, Deulofeu, Vitolo, Morata, Pedro, Villa