All eyes (or many, anyway) will be on Team Espana in Brazil later this month as they try to extend their string of top-tier international victories going back to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, plus two European Championships in 2008 and 2012. Vicente del Bosque’s La Roja is among top contenders of the 16 teams competing, kicking off its pursuit for repeat glory on June 16 against the team that they vanquished in South Africa during the last tournament: Het Nederlands Elftal (The Dutch Eleven) under Louis van Gaal. Chile and Australia are the underdogs in Group B.
Where La Roja is concerned, though, all eyes will be on their leading man, striker David Villa, who holds the Spanish record for international goals and who, along with veteran internationals Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres, and Xabi Alonso, will be expected to lead the team to top-dog bragging rights.
Even before Spain kicks off its quest in earnest, Villa was grabbing attention for a stunning off-pitch move. On Monday, the newest franchise of Major League Soccer– New York City FC– announced that Villa had agreed to join the club, as its first hire.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) June 2, 2014
For NYC FC– a joint venture between the New York Yankees and Premier League 2014 champions Manchester City–the move is brilliant. With Villa, the club gets a marquee player of dazzling skill and international stature, who will generate serious buzz for a sport franchise operating in the largest media market in the US, not to mention the most sports-saturated market in the country. If it works out, NYC FC’s leveraging of Villa could dwarf anything that David Beckham did for the LA Galaxy during the five years he played for them. (though some would argue that “playing” is a far too charitable description for what Beckham did for the Galaxy)
Villa, who has never played outside of Spain, helped his club, Atletico Madrid, win their first Spanish league in 18 years last season and also reach the UEFA Champions League final earlier this spring, where they lost to Real Madrid. Before joining Atletico in 2013, he spent three unbelievable seasons in Spanish heavyweight FC Barcelona.
Even if Villa and La Roja don’t end up with a glorious victory in Brazil this year, you can bet it’ll still be a victory for NYCFC– and Major League Soccer overall– when they begin play next year.
Es verdad, no?