Major League Soccer is improving every year, according to New York City FC forward David Villa.
The 2010 World Cup winner is in the midst of his fourth full season in North America, and while his NYCFC side has bettered its record each season since joining the league in 2015 and is on pace to do so once again in 2018, Villa says MLS is growing more challenging by the year.
"Yes, every year is more difficult," Villa told members of the media on Monday at NYCFC's training facility in Orangeburg, New York. "Every year there's more talent, every year there's better teams."
Villa's assertion is backed up by the points-earning pace of the league's top sides in 2018.
Last season, Toronto FC was the runaway winner of the Supporters' Shield, winning the trophy after earning 2.02 points per game. NYCFC was the best of the rest, averaging 1.68.
Now, New York City is one of three teams averaging two points a game, along with Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls, and FC Dallas has recovered from a slow start to record a points-per-game pace of 1.95.
But as Villa is well aware, regular-season success means little once the playoffs get underway.
"It's true that this year the Eastern Conference are getting the most points, but you already know that nothing matters until the playoffs," he said. "But we'll see."
Villa has captained NYCFC to both of its postseason appearances, in 2016 and 2017. Both seasons the club finished second in the East, securing a bye into the conference semifinals, where it was eliminated on each occasion.
"Right now we're happy being close to the top of the table, closing in on playoff qualification and getting ready to battle in the for the title," he said.