David Villa impresses Spain coach Julen Lopetegui at New York City FC
Spain coach Julen Lopetegui watched David Villa in action at the weekend and was impressed by the New York City FC star, who is hoping for a recall to La Roja.
Lopetegui travelled to the United States and was in the Yankee Stadium stands on Sunday as Villa's team ended the regular season with a 4-1 home triumph over Columbus Crew.
The 34-year-old Villa, who has not featured for Spain since the 2014 World Cup, scored one goal, set up another and hit the post as his side finished second place in the Eastern Conference ahead of their MLS Cup playoffs debut vs. Toronto on Sunday.
Lopetegui told Onda Cero radio: "I went to New York with my wife, I took advantage and watched Villa play. The truth is that I saw him very well and playing with a lot of intensity."
A 2008 Euro champion and a 2010 World Cup winner, Villa has spoken optimistically about Lopetegui, who replaced Vicente del Bosque after Euro 2016, selecting him so he can have a chance to surpass the 100-cap mark.
Spain's leading goalscorer with 59 goals in 97 appearances, Villa is thriving in his third campaign in the MLS.
The NYCFC captain has scored 23 goals in 33 league games, one shy of top MLS scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls.
"Villa continues to play at a very good level and in the future we will see if he can return," Lopetegui said.
"We don't close the door to any player and we always have consideration for players that can help the national team.
"Villa is well, playing with a lot of rhythm, scoring lots of goals and showing a great attitude."
Lopetegui has great respect for Villa, who was the top scorer at Euro 2008, with four goals in four games to help the national team clinch their first European title since 1964.
"He is a player who has done priceless things for Spanish football," he said of the former Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid star.
Lopetegui has also praised Chelsea forward Diego Costa, who started in Spain's last two World Cup qualifiers, scoring in a 2-0 win at Albania on Oct. 9.
Costa has lost his temper while playing for Chelsea in the Premier League and was charged with improper conduct earlier this year, but Lopetegui has only good things to say about the Brazilian-born star.
"Diego is a good person and so far, I haven't had any problems with him," he said. "When he makes a mistake, he knows it and there is no need to tell him."
Spain host Macedonia on Nov. 12 in Granada in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Lopetegui's side are level on seven points with Italy but top Group G on goal difference after three rounds.
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.