Jose Villarreal looks to parlay successful U-20 camp into LA Galaxy starting role

Villarreal fitter after U-20 camp, targets a place in LA’s starting XI

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Photo Credit: 
German Alegria / LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. – Jose Villarreal has already all but locked down a spot with the U.S. Under-20 side after a successful U-20 CONCACAF Championship earlier this year, but now back from another successful U-20 camp, Villarreal hopes to lock down a regular place in the LA Galaxy starting lineup.

Villarreal returned to the Galaxy’s training grounds this week after a successful week under the tutelage of U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos. One of 24 players called into the camp at The Home Depot Center, the 19-year-old forward seems to be a sure fire starter for the U-20’s as they prepare for this summer’s U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

READ: Sorto and Villarreal among Galaxy connections named to U.S. U-20 training camp

“It was good,” Villarreal told LAGalaxy.com of his camp experience. “It was a good week of training, I feel a little bit more fit because we were going two-a-days, but I feel fine and I’m happy to be back starting with this weekend against Houston.”

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena agrees that Villarreal’s fitness has improved.

“It’s better. They trained a little bit more,” said Arena. “I think when they’re in their age group, at their age; it’s always good for their confidence”

Villarreal has every reason to be confident of his place with the U.S. U-20’s particularly after starting both scrimmages that U.S. Soccer organized, first an intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday and a match against Cal FC on Sunday. 

Although the camp helped Villarreal with his fitness, he admits that he owes his place in the team to his four-game performance at the U-20 CONCACAF Championship in Puebla, Mexico, where he notched three goals.

“I think that it all comes down to how I did in Mexico. I feel like I did a good job, we did a good job and worked as a team,” Villarreal said. “I had some errors that I could have worked on better [in camp], but it was a good week and I’m just looking forward the next tournament that we have.”

Before he turns his attention to Turkey, Villarreal will have an opportunity to earn a starting role with the Galaxy after starter Jack McBean suffered a fractured left clavicle in LA’s 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake last week.

READ: Jack McBean out six to eight weeks after successful surgery to repair fractured left clavicle

A fellow Homegrown player and close friend of McBean, Villarreal is maintaining constant communication with his fallen friend, but he’s well aware that it is his time to step up and fill the void.

“When a guy goes down, another guy steps up,” Villarreal said. “I think Charlie [Rugg] did a good job in the game [against RSL] and Gyasi [Zardes] did a good job so we have guys that can play.”

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com