Former New York City FC star David Villa is returning to the five boroughs, but in a new role on a new project.
The Spanish World Cup winner on Tuesday confirmed that he is a lead investor in a USL Championship expansion team coming to Queens, New York.
Named Queensboro FC, the new team will take the field in 2021 and play most of their home matches in a new modular stadium with a capacity of around 7,500 at York College in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, as well as a few games at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets and NYCFC’s one-off venue for their sole playoff game this fall.
The news was originally reported by The Athletic back in July, and both Villa and USL officially confirmed the developments in statements provided to ESPN for a report on Tuesday.
“Bringing professional football to Queens' diverse community is an exciting and unique opportunity,” Villa said in his statement. “The beautiful game already lives here, thanks to the melting pot of cultures who are so passionate about the sport. I can't think of a better place for QBFC to grow. I'm proud to be part of this project.”
Villa, 37, was NYCFC’s first-ever signing and a Designated Player for the club from 2015-18, scoring 77 goals and 26 assists in 117 career MLS regular-season matches after a distinguished career in La Liga with Real Zaragoza, Valencia, FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. He moved on to Japanese side Vissel Kobe at the close of last season and plans to retire between now and 2021 in order to focus on the new USL project.
Asset manager Jonathan Krane is Queensboro FC’s lead investor. The club plan to operate a youth academy, with Villa closely involved on that front and on other day-to-day soccer operations.
“We will recruit the best players in Queens as we become the home team,” Villa told ESPN. “We have a built-in advantage in the number of talented players in the borough. The sporting level in USL is high, which means we have to be demanding in the quality of our athletes. But our goal is to have as many Queens-bred players as possible.”