NYCFC’s David Villa earns Spanish National Team recall

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A familiar face will be back in training with the Spanish National Team next week ahead of a pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers.

Spain manager Julen Lopetegui made the surprising selection of New York City FC Designated Player David Villa in his 26-man squad to face Italy in Madrid on September 2 and Liechtenstein on the road on September 5. It’s Villa’s first national team call-up since the 2014 World Cup.

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The 35-year-old has starred for NYCFC since joining the club in 2014 ahead of its inaugural season. Since then, he’s been tearing up MLS, scoring 60 goals in 87 matches and becoming one of the league’s most-feared attackers.

His goal-scoring acumen clearly was noticed by Lopetegui, who said in a press conference announcing the squad Friday that he believed Villa could offer something to the squad.

The call-up is a huge boost for MLS. Most European and South American national team coaches refuse to call in players playing in MLS, but Sebastian Giovinco’s recent Italy call-up and Villa’s Spain call-up may be the start of a new trend of MLS stars still keeping their national team status.