24 Under 24: LA Galaxy Academy phenom Jose Villarreal earning rave reviews in sophomore season

Villarreal finishes 11th on the list of best young players in MLS

11. Jose Villarreal

Pos: F/M | LA Galaxy | Age: 19

The Galaxy Academy product got his feet wet in 2012 before getting a regular run in 2013 for Bruce Arena’s club. LA are allowing Villarreal time to mature and get brought up to speed in MLS. Still, the youngster has started in more than half his appearances, scoring two goals for good measure. He continues to go through some bumps in the process – especially after missing time with the US at the U-20 World Cup – but has shown more than enough promise to land at No. 11 in his first appearance in 24 Under 24.

What TDs and coaches like: "Good player, great future. I think in the next season we’ll mark him as a very valuable player. ... He’s very technical with the ball. ... He's a really exciting attacking talent. The issue for him is going to be how do you get him on the field when you have Gyasi Zardes, Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane? ... Minutes are going to be hard to come by for him, he's going to have to probably play out of position, because it seems to me his best position is as a second forward. ... He's got he's an outstanding left foot. The fact that he's taking some of their set pieces and direct kicks – scored on a couple of them – with a team that loaded, that's pretty impressive. ... He's good in tight spaces. He's a tricky little guy, he's got good technique and that's an important piece as well. ... We certainly realized that he was a piece we have to be wary of and that we had to take away his left foot."

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: "Some of the younger players sometimes think they have reached everything that they need to learn and they don’t work as hard as they need to, but the qualities are there if he keeps learning and progressing.  If he does that, he will make it. No question. ... I think he has some room to develop. He needs to be palying at the highest level he can and getting minutes [in LA] might be more difficult than maybe another team. ... Working off the ball more than anything else. He needs to be more aware of things that happen when he doesn’t have the ball. He has the right people around him to learn. ... I think he needs to produce [as he gets more chances], but he’s surrounded by very good players. The quality of the learning experience that he’s getting with the quality of players LA has in those positions is going to be key for him.”

Opta Says: Soony Saad (2.0) is the only player eligible for 24 Under 24 with more chances created from open play per 90 minutes than Jose Villarreal (1.9) during the 2013 season.
 

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: N/A
Castrol Index (as of 9/18/13): #62

2013 Stats
Matches played: 18
Matches started: 10
Goals: 2
Assists: 1

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