David Villa is on the cusp of a major milestone.
The 36-year-old captain of New York City FC sits at 399 goals across his professional career, according to the club. His play has taken him from Sporting Gijon in 1999, to La Liga’s Real Zaragoza, Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before his arrival in New York.
For his 399th on Sunday, Villa came on in the 35th minute at Atlanta United FC last Sunday and promptly scored in the 39th minute on a penalty. It was his second goal of 2018 — the first since returning from a calf injury that cost him three games — and sets the stage for 400, which can come as early as Sunday at the Portland Timbers (1-3-2, 5 points).
“David looked good when he came on,” head coach Patrick Vieira said after the 2-2 draw in Atlanta. “He just showed how he’s been working with us the last couple of weeks and he came through with no issues, so we’re happy.”
NYCFC’s first-ever signee has been worth every penny. He’s scored 66 goals in MLS while providing a pillar of consistency that the front office could build around. It’s all led to this season, where the unbeaten Blues hold a 5-0-2 (17 points) record at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Reaching 400 would put Villa in elite company. Among active players, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo are above 600, while LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Barcelona’s Luis Suarez have surpassed 400.
Villa’s goals have come at some of the biggest moments in soccer. He scored the final goal for Barcelona in a 3-1 win over Manchester United to win the 2011 Champions League final. For Spain, Villa tied for most goals at the 2010 World Cup with five. Spain scored eight goals overall in that tournament en route to lifting the trophy.
His best scoring seasons came at Valencia, where he topped out with 31 goals. His highest total in New York has been 24 last season, and he shows no signs of slowing down now.