David Villa has been rewarded for his remarkable 2016 campaign, as the New York City FC star was named MLS’s Most Valuable Player on Tuesday, beating out Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan for the league’s top individual accolade.
The striker was relentless in NYCFC’s charge to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference that secured its first-ever postseason berth, remarkably having a hand in 44 percent of his team’s goals with 23 strikes and four assists.
Villa was unveiled as NYCFC’s inaugural signing in June 2014, and ahead of the franchise’s debut 2015 term retained his fitness in a brief sojourn on loan at sister club Melbourne City in Australia. Amid the initial growing pains at NYCFC, Villa, who was bestowed with the captain’s armband, still stormed to 18 goals and eight assists over 29 starts to become an instant hit with fans.
At 35 years old, he can now look back on one of his more prolific campaigns in the professional game – even rivaling his heady days manning the front-line for Valencia and, most notably and successfully, Barcelona in La Liga.
“I’m very proud to represent NYCFC and to receive this award,” Villa told those in attendance. “It’s a big day for me because this is one of the things I said I wanted to do when I came here two years ago.
“This is an important day in my career – this is an important moment for me. This award is for the best player in this amazing league which has many quality players so this is a very happy and proud day for me.”
It’s not only the first time Villa has collected this individual gong, but he’s also the first NYCFC player to do so. It’s just the second year of the club’s MLS adventure which, helped by being bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi-founded City Football Group, is widely tipped to become a powerhouse in soccer Stateside.