WASHINGTON – Members of the Spanish national team met the media for the first time since arriving in the United States, filing into a meeting room Tuesday morning at the Mandarin Oriental hotel and fielding questions from a throng of international press.
Though Atlético de Madrid defender Juanfran Torres and Arsenal winger Santi Cazorla fielded a wide-ranging batch of questions about their form, fitness and mentality heading into the World Cup, many in attendance were also eager to gather their thoughts on David Villa’s transfer to New York City FC, announced just a day earlier.
“For MLS to land David Villa is obviously pretty extraordinary,” Villa’s former teammate, Juanfran, told MLSsoccer.com. “I have a great relationship with David; I tried pretty hard but just couldn’t convince him to stay with me at Atlético for another year. This is obviously a huge opportunity for him, and he’s going to be the best player in MLS or one of the best at minimum.”
Landing Spain’s all-time leading international goalscorer is obviously a coup for a team that hasn’t even taken the pitch yet, an acquisition made even more intriguing by the relatively small number of Spaniards who ply their trade in MLS.
Villa joins a growing yet still short list of eight players who feature for an MLS side: D.C. United defender Cristian Fernández, Sporting KC’s Victor Muñoz and Antonio Dovale, New York’s Armando and Rubén Bover, Colorado defensive midfielder José Mari, Montreal Impact central defender Adrián López and Toronto FC midfielder Álvaro Rey.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Cazorla suggested that the crop of players will continue to grow in the coming years, mirroring a sentiment often put forth by visiting internationals.
“Obviously, I think this is a very attractive league that continues to grow and a very attractive place to live,” Cazorla said. “I do think that as the league keeps attracting more and more experienced players more Spaniards will end up here.”