David Villa came through the first half of Wednesday night’s All Star game versus Real Madrid unscathed ahead of Sunday’s Hudson River Derby.
NYCFC’s top-scorer enjoyed an eye-catching 45 minutes against Zinedine Zidane’s men before he was withdrawn at the break with the score locked at 0-0.
The All Stars went on to lose 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 tie after Dom Dwyer had come up with the late answer to Borja Mayoral’s 60th minute opener.
The reigning MLS MVP Villa got the start for Veljko Paunovic’s XI as part of an attacking trident with Toronto duo Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore in front of 61,428 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Bastian Schweinsteiger captained the team in his home city in midfield alongside Michael Bradley and Kaka, while Tim Howard was in goal behind Graham Zusi, Johan Kappelhof, Jelle van Damme and Greg Garza.
Real Madrid were without Cristiano Ronaldo but still boasted some regular starters, including Isco, Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos.
The heavens opened minutes before kickoff but that did nothing to dampen the fireworks which preceded the game and the excitement for this All Star game versus the European champions.
Despite the fact that Madrid were fielding a below full strength team, Los Blancos dominated the opening 30’ and had a glut of chances to take the lead which narrowly flew past the target.
At the other end, Villa was only a brilliant Keylor Navas save away from putting the All Stars ahead on 35’ when the NYCFC striker was found with a cross from the byline when he was ten yards out.
The 35-year old did everything right, firing a powerful shot off but there was the Costa Rican with the pawing save to deny the former Barcelona man.
Villa was a central figure in the opening half, helping the MLS XI on the counter with a number of excellent first-time cross-field passes which stretched the pitch and drove his team forward.
He had another rare All Stars’ strike on goal a minute before the interval but this time was unable to work Navas, shooting way over the crossbar.
Sunday’s scourge of NYCFC, Giovinco was inches away from putting the All Stars ahead in first half stoppage-time when he let rip with a stunning 35-yard strike which faded just past the post.
Villa’s night came to an end at half-time when Paunovic withdrew him to enable the forward a rest before Sunday’s Hudson River Derby.
That was one of nine changes to the starting XI at the interval and on the hour mark, Real Madrid took the lead thanks to a deflected strike from Borja Mayoral.
Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Marcelo entered the fray a minute later for the visitors, injecting yet more star power onto the field but it was the All Stars who scored the second goal of the game late in the day.
Dax McCarty’s crashing 87th minute header came back off the post but there was Dwyer on the follow-up, nodding in from close range to tie the match and send it to PKs.
Dwyer and Giovanni dos Santos missed the All Stars' first two spot kicks and Real Madrid went on to win the shootout 4-2 thanks to Marcelo's winner.
Villa will now return to New York City to rejoin his club teammates ahead of the game vs. Red Bulls on Sunday night at 6pm.
MLS All Stars XI: Howard, Garza, Kappelhof, Van Damme, Zusi, Bradley, Schweinsteiger, Kaka, Giovinco, Altidore, Villa
Real Madrid XI: Navas, Ramos, Nacho, Kroos, Theo, Lucas V, Llorente, Asenio, Mayoral, Isco, Archraf