CARSON, Calif. (Thursday, December 22, 2011) – The LA Galaxy announced today that the club has signed 18-year-old midfielder Jose Villarreal as a Homegrown Player. The Inglewood, Calif. native is the third player to be signed directly from the Galaxy Academy, joining Tristan Bowen, who, in 2008, was the first player in MLS history to be signed directly from a club’s academy, and Jack McBean, who signed with the Galaxy in January 2011 and became the youngest player ever to play in a game and score a goal for the club in the regular season finale against Houston in October.
“Jose is a player that we have known and watched for a long time and it’s been great to have him in our Academy this past year,” Galaxy Academy Senior Director Chris Klein said. “He has a tremendous amount of promise and potential and we’re excited that he’ll be able to continue his development with the first team.”
Villarreal is in his first season with the Galaxy Academy after joining the club from local club team Pateadores after helping them win the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-18 championship in July, scoring 20 goals in 31 games for the club, including two in the U-18 Development Academy Final. This season, the skillful midfielder who began his club career with the South Bay Force, has scored three times in the six games that he has played in a Galaxy uniform as the team, which has a 7-0-2 record so this season.
In addition to his time on the field with the Galaxy, Villarreal has also represented his country, joining the U.S. Under-23 National Team for a camp in Germany last month and playing in a scrimmage against Azerbaijan. In addition to his time with the U-23’s, Villarreal, who is eligible to play for the U.S. U-20’s, has played for the U-18’s in July 2011 at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, starting all three games that his team played in the competition, tallying one assist.
“It’s been my dream ever since I was little to be a professional soccer player, so to be able to do that and stay close to home so that I can play in front of my family and friends is a dream come true,” Villarreal said. “Growing up here in the area I’ve always watched the Galaxy and been a fan of the team so this will be a great experience for me.”
Villarreal, whose 16-year-old brother Jaime plays for the Galaxy Academy U-16’s and is their leading scorer with 12 goals in eight games, will join the Galaxy for the start of their preseason camp next month. He could make his professional debut on Wednesday, March 7 when they take on Toronto FC in the first leg of their 2011/12 CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal, which will be played at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Galaxy will then open the 2012 MLS season will three days later on Saturday, March 10 at The Home Depot Center in MLS First Kick 2012, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. The time, opponent and broadcast information for this game will be included in the entire regular season schedule, which will be announced soon. Tickets for that match are on sale now via the Galaxy Holiday Pack, which includes four tickets to the match and two championship mini-scarves. BUY NOW