New York - The curtain for the newest big-time sports show in town goes up on Sunday with Spanish captain David Villa leading New York City FC in their Major League Soccer home opener at Yankee Stadium.
Villa, a World Cup and European Championship winner, has embraced the challenge of leading a new team and winning hearts in New York starting against the New England Revolution.
"We're facing this game with excitement. It's going to be a big party for the city, a big party for the club," Villa, 33, said at Wednesday's Media Day at Yankee Stadium.
"This is completely different from all the experiences I've had in the past. We're starting from scratch here."
NYCFC, which is sharing Yankee Stadium with the pinstriped baseball players this season while they wait for their own home stadium to be built, were launched last week in a 1-1 draw in their MLS debut against Orlando in front of a crowd of 62,000.
The deft playmaker, who is also a Champions League and Spanish league winner, said that was a wonderful start but that playing at Yankee Stadium would be "fantastico."
"I think it's fantastic and an honor to be able to share this home with the New York Yankees," he said through an interpreter.
"I'm aware that it's such an historic franchise in sports in the United States."
Coach Jason Kreis was equally exuberant about working with Villa.
"David's a world renowned soccer player who has won everthing there is to win ... but even more importantly for us, he's a terrific man," the coach said.
"It's just incredible to work with somebody that has that kind of character, that kind of work rate and that kind of ability to lead a group."
With the frigid winter that hit the U.S. Northeast, NYCFC have had to practice on artificial turf and the quality of the natural turf field may be dicey.
"We're not going to make any excuses about conditions," said Claudio Reyna, NYCFC's sporting director and a former U.S. national team captain. "It's the same for both teams."
Midfielder Mix Diskerud, who scored NYCFC's first ever goal, said he thought the Big Apple would warm to the team.
"We have a lot of midfield players that like to be on the ball and like to pass it," he said. "It's not one player dribbling all around.
"We want to create excitement and entertainment."