NEW YORK – It’s the latest milestone in a career full of them: On Saturday afternoon in the driving rain in the Bronx, David Villa scored his 50th Major League Soccer goal.
Twenty-five minutes later, the New York City FC captain netted his 51st, latching onto a Jack Harrison cross and lashing in a first-time volley for what proved to the game-winner in a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders.
“I’m happy because the two goals give three points to the team,” Villa said. “I always say its good the numbers – 50 goals, 51 – but I have a lot of games left and my objective is to not score 50 goals. Now it’s to score 52.”
After a brace in a 3-0 win at Orlando on May 21, Villa went three consecutive league games without a goal. He also didn’t find the back of the net in a 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup last Wednesday.
Villa breaking his mini-slump with his ninth and 10th goal in his 15th league game of the year came at an ideal time for NYCFC, who are gearing up for the first of three regular season matchups against the rival Red Bulls on Saturday at Red Bull Arena (1:30 pm ET | FOX in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada).
“Goals give a lot of points and good moments for NYCFC, so it’s the most important for me,” Villa said. “Now I’m thinking, rest today of course, and score [No.] 52 is the best I can do in the future. I’m so happy to score so many goals because for NYCFC it’s good for them.”
Villa hasn’t put a huge emphasis on his individual totals since joining NYCFC – it’s not, he says, the way soccer is played. It’s a team sport and his focus is on the team gain. To that end, he’s happy to have found the back of the net 50 times in his first 78 regular season contests.
“I think a lot of these goals give good memories for the history of NYCFC, give a lot of points and give moments for the team so I’m so happy for that,” Villa said.
There have been other former European stars who have joined Major League Soccer in their 30s, with a mixed bag of results leading some observers to question the wisdom of signing such players to huge contracts.
Villa, though, has been worth every cent. He’s the fifth quickest player to score 50 goals in MLS history behind Raul Diaz Arce (67 games), Carlos Ruiz (69), Roy Lassiter (75) and Taylor Twellman (77), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“To be honest I’m not surprised because you have to look at David’s career and what he’s achieved,” said NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira. “It’s not easy to be the top scorer in Spanish [national team] history, it’s not easy to be in the Champions League, to win the World Cup. The quality is there and it’s always going to be there.”
For Vieira, Villa’s greatness doesn’t end on the field.
“Where he is really good is the passion and love he has for the game,” Vieira said. “In our society we judge people a bit too early, a bit too quick. We just have to take case by case and David is a positive one for the young players in our football club, for the fans, for what we’re trying to build.”