NYCFC’s Villa: MLS ‘deserves respect’

Posted: 07/03/2017 in MLS, Sports
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New York City FC striker David Villa has come to the defense of Major League Soccer.

A relatively young league founded in compliance with the United States’ 1994 World Cup bid, MLS has attracted criticism since its birth from American fans of traditional continental sports and worldwide observers who disparage the league’s level of play.

Villa doesn’t think that condemnation is warranted, and few would know better than the Spanish World Cup winner. He spent 15 years in arguably the world’s best league in Spain with clubs such as Valencia and Barcelona before he moved to the North American top flight in 2014.

“I don’t think there is anyone that can come to the MLS for one, two, three months and talk badly about the league,” Villa told CNN’s Matias Grez.

While Villa has enjoyed success in MLS – pairing 63 appearances with 41 goals for the team that plies its trade at Yankees Stadium – others with similar backgrounds haven’t been as fortunate.

Since David Beckham started the trend of Designated Players who have capped off European careers with MLS tenures, for every Villa there’s been a name like Mista, Rafa Marquez, or ex-NYCFC mate Frank Lampard that hasn’t found the league as straightforward as perhaps expected.

As MLS moves past its characterisation as a retirement home for players beyond their best, the quality of play improves, and with it, the pedigree of the league’s stars.

A generation of past-their-prime Designated Players including Claudio Reyna and Denilson is being crowded out by emerging stars like Atlanta United‘s Miguel Almiron and Sporting Kansas City‘s Gerso Fernandes.

Throw in names like Toronto FC goal machine Sebastian Giovinco and LA Galaxy attacker Giovani Dos Santos, and MLS is rife with talents spending their best years in the North American top tier.

“All these comments from people that talk badly about it, without a doubt it’s because they haven’t analyzed the league,” Villa said.

The reigning MVP and two-time All-Star may be nearing the twilight of a decorated career, but while he’s in the MLS, Villa reckons the league merits some plaudits.

“I’ve been here, I’ve seen the league for a long time, and it deserves respect from everybody for how good it is.”


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