Monday's soccer news starts with NYCFC's David Villa hitting his 50th and 51st MLS goals. Villa scored from the penalty spot and the run of play in the 2-1 win over Seattle. It's easy enough to point to that as proof that a designated player works in Major League Soccer. Villa joined MLS in a familiar situation. He had the resume, but age was an issue. Unlike some of his contemporaries, however, he ended up as crucial a part of an NYCFC squad doomed to struggle as an expansion club.
Villa scored 18 goals in NYCFC's debut season, missing the playoffs. This is MLS and change can happen quickly. 23 goals in his second season and a playoff spot, complete with a new reputation for NYCFC as a contender. That's carried into 2017, with Villa the captain of a team that nobody writes off anymore.
That's the important part of the story. Villa isn't just scoring at will for a one-dimensional club shipping goals at the other end. He's played a designated player role in pushing his team into contention.
"To be honest I'm not surprised," NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said of Villa getting to 50 MLS goals so quickly. "Because you have to look at David's career and what he has achieved. It is not easy to be the top goalscorer in Spain's history, it's not easy to win the Champions League and the World Cup. That talent is always going to be there."
Also in the soccer news, The LA Times' Kevin Baxter makes a point about the message from FIFA staging events in Russia. ESPN FC's Tim Vickery wonders how long Chile can play their style when they've been in tournaments for three straight summers. Keir Radnedge looks at the issues already emerging with instant replay, in use at the Confederations Cup.
The Guardian's David Conn reveals that FIFA's ethics committee was investigating president Gianni Infantino over allegations of influencing the CAF presidential election.
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