The San Jose Earthquakes have signed Cristian Espinoza to a Designated Player contract after acquiring his rights from Villarreal CF in Spain, the club announced Wednesday.
Espinoza joined San Jose on loan using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) in January 2019 and notched two goals and 13 assists over 30 appearances for the club.
“Cristian was a very important player for us this year,” San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda said in a club statement. “His qualities are not easily replicated and I’m happy he will continue with us.”
Espinoza appeared in all but four matches for the Earthquakes last season, and finished sixth in the league in assists. His transfer fee from Villarreal to San Jose set a club record, although the exact amount was not disclosed.
“We’re incredibly excited to make Cristian Espinoza a centerpiece of our team moving forward,” Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said. “He embraces the spirit of serving his teammates like few do whether it be in front of goal or when in need of support. He had a tremendous impact on our club as well as our fans in 2019 and made it clear throughout our talks with Villarreal that he wanted to play for San Jose and San Jose only. For this reason, I want to thank Cristian for his commitment to our club as well as our Board of Directors for their support and investment in the direction we’re headed.”