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David Villa praises Tata Martino, has high expectations for Atlanta United’s inaugural season

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The Spanish legend has some nice words for the club and its manager.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at New York City FC Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

David Villa and Tata Martino’s paths never crossed at Barcelona. The legendary striker left the Camp Nou just as Tata arrived. However, he says that his friends at the Catalonia club had nothing but glowing words for the current Atlanta United manager.

In an interview with MLSSoccer.com, Villa talked about the respect he has for Martino and the high expectations he has for Atlanta’s first season.

“It’s early yet, only seven or eight games. But he’s a great coach, they signed some really good players. Of course it’s hard to start from zero and play against a team that has been working for 20 years before you, but they are a good team and I expect them to have a great season.” — David Villa; Source: MLSSoccer.com

Villa admitted that he watched Atlanta’s 3-1 defeat to D.C. United on Sunday and said that despite the result, he knows New York City FC are in for a very tough match this weekend at Yankee Stadium.

When people talk about Designated Players coming into MLS, the aging veterans are mostly looked at in a negative light. David Villa has been one of the big exceptions. He’s come to MLS with nothing but respect for his surroundings and has been a true spokesman for the league and NYCFC. His kind words about Atlanta United and Tata Martino are genuine. Even though we all want Atlanta to get the three points on Sunday, it’s hard to root against a player as classy on and off the field as Villa.