David Villa named MLS MVP; celebrates with NYC students

David Villa named MLS MVP; celebrates with NYC students

Villa accepted his MVP trophy during a ceremony in TriBeCa on Tuesday.

David Villa, right, was named the 2016 MLS MVP on Tuesday after scoring 23 goals during the season.
David Villa, right, was named the 2016 MLS MVP on Tuesday after scoring 23 goals during the season. Photo Credit: Getty Images / AFP

Instead of celebrating himself and his newly-acquired MLS Most Valuable Player award, New York City FC’s David Villa spent his day playing the sport he loves with a bunch of kids.

A few hours after he received the trophy during a ceremony in TriBeCa, the club’s captain traveled to PS 2 in the Lower East Side to play with the students and participate in Tuesday’s after-school program. The visit was part of the club’s support for the City in the Community foundation, which promotes healthier lifestyles for children in the five boroughs through soccer.

Villa, who led NYCFC to its first postseason berth this year, stressed the importance of giving back to the community whenever he can.

“I think this is one of the greatest events NYCFC has with the community,” Villa told amNewYork in an interview conducted in his native Spanish. “As player and captain, I’m more than happy to join them [NYCFC] and be with the kids.”

The 5-9, 148-pound Villa found himself in a tough race for the league’s top individual prize, competing against cross-Hudson rivals and finalists Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan of the New York Red Bulls.

The award is Villa’s first postseason honor since signing on as NYCFC’s first player in 2014, a year before the club’s inaugural MLS campaign. He noted the significance the award has for him at Tuesday morning’s news conference.

“Today is one of the big days of my career,” said Villa, one of the club’s designated players. “This trophy, it means a lot to me because I won this trophy for every player in the MLS committee who chose me, the community of MLS coaches [who] chose me, and the community of journalists in MLS chose me.

“It’s a great example of what I want to show the world with my football here.”

The 35-year-old from Spain started 32 of 33 games played this season, scoring 23 goals to finish second for the Golden Boot and adding four assists. Villa is NYCFC’s top scorer in the club’s brief history, and his six braces — two goals in one game — in 2016 show his ability to play efficiently.

Although NYCFC was eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Villa believes his award will motivate the team entering 2017.

“My teammates also deserve this award,” Villa told amNY. “I hope that it will serve as a strength for next year so that we can be better. We’re going to fight again for the regular season and be more prepared in the playoffs.”

2016 highlights

23 goals, second in MLS

6 two-goal games

4 assists

Best XI selection

1st playoff berth in NYCFC history

Anthony Payero