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NYCFC showing long-term depth with David Villa sidelined

It is difficult to think of New York City FC without thinking of David Villa. The Spaniard has been essential to the club ever since it played its first match. Off the field, his signing brought attention to the club, and his pedigree was likely a substantial factor in NYCFC’s ability to attract as big a fan base as it currently boasts.

This is all because of what David Villa has brought to his side throughout his career, and even at his age continues to offer to NYCFC. Besides an abundance of goals, the forward also provides a platform for his teammates to perform through his movement off the ball, intelligent passes, as well as solid leadership as captain.

However, David Villa is approaching the end of his career. Next season will likely be his last as a player, and at his age, he is more vulnerable to injury. He has already missed numerous matches, including the last several.

Sooner or later, NYCFC will have to rely elsewhere for quality up front. However, their recent run of results despite David Villa’s absence from the side has positive implications not only for this season but beyond.

Since Villa picked up an injury against Toronto, the Boys in Blue have won four of their five matches. They have failed to score more than once only on one occasion, and that was in a fairly tight match with the Red Bulls.

Not only have the side stepped up collectively, but the individual performances of players have also been strong without Villa in the lineup. Jo Ince Berget netted twice against Toronto and followed up with a goal against Chicago a week later. Jesus Medina has scored in both of NYCFC’s last two matches, while Maxi Morales’s creativity has supplemented Torrent’s side in the attacking third.

Though defensive work has never been a responsibility of David Villa, it is important to recognize NYC’s recent defensive success. They have kept clean sheets in each of their last three matches, and the Chicago Fire was the only opponent to score more than once against them. Without Villa’s ability up front, the need for proper defense becomes even more significant, and the fact that NYCFC’s defense has been able to deliver is a positive sign.

If NYCFC is to launch another run in the playoffs and a challenge for the MLS Cup, they must have enough depth. This is the case with any team in football, and it often separates the sides that are capable of making deep runs from those that are not. NYCFC will certainly hope that Villa is fit when they playoffs occur, but if they are to qualify for the playoffs as serious contenders, they must be able to handle his absence.

Their strong recent record suggests that they still have the quality to perform without the Spaniard. Villa will likely feature on many more occasions for the Yankee Stadium-based side, but eventually, they will have to rely on other players up top. They have done so well this season, but whether they will continue to do so after David Villa’s retirement is unclear.

In the meantime, let’s just enjoy what we have left of David Villa while he is available.

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