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USL Review: Las Vegas Lights add former LA Galaxy homegrown Jose Villarreal

This week’s USL Review leads off with the Las Vegas Lights latest signing.

Jun 21, 2017; Commerce City, CO, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jose Villarreal (33) controls the ball in the first half against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Eric Wynalda’s USL Championship side, Las Vegas Lights FC, added some offensive firepower this week by bringing aboard a former Los Angeles Galaxy homegrown product.

On Wednesday, the Lights announced the signing of Jose Villarreal, a 25-year-old forward with more than 70 appearances for Major League Soccer squads since 2012. Villarreal signed with the Galaxy just before the 2012 season as a Homegrown player, making his pro debut at 17 years old. He most recently featured with Orlando City SC in 2018.

Villarreal made his debut for the Lights on Wednesday, coming on in the 69th minute of their U.S. Open Cup defeat to Orange County FC.

“It means a lot, it’s a second go at it for me and I’m happy to be here, I’m excited,” Villarreal said in a statement from the Lights. “I’m pumped to get to work with [Wynalda] and a bunch of guys that I know from growing up with them in Los Angeles.”

Villarreal appeared in 88 games with the Galaxy from 2012 through 2017, scoring 10 goals and assisting on 10 others. During his time with the Galaxy, the club won a pair of MLS Cups. Villarreal appeared in two playoff games with the Galaxy.

In an effort to find more playing time for Villarreal, the Galaxy sent him on loan to Liga MX side Cruz Azul and to their USL Championship affiliate, LA Galaxy II. With Galaxy II, he scored seven goals and assisted on four others across 37 games.

In 2017, Orlando City acquired Villarreal from the Galaxy for a third-round MLS SuperDraft pick. He appeared in five games with the Lions last season.

“Jose has always been an extremely talented player,” Wynalda said in a statement. “We’re the perfect place for him, watching him last year in Orlando City and he did not get a lot of minutes, I think he was frustrated with that. Now he’s motivated, but it’s going to take time for him to readjust and acclimate to Las Vegas. But this is a guy that brings quality into the team.”

Things to know

  • Championship expansion side Loudon United is in the market for a new head coach. The Washington Post reported last Friday that Richie Williams would leave his post as the team’s skipper to join Bruce Arena’s staff at the New England Revolution of MLS. Because Williams was under contract, DC United – Loudon’s MLS parent club – received $75,000 in General Allocation Money for compensation, according to Pro Soccer USA’s Emily Olsen. Ryan Martin, a former DC United academy director, will assume the duties of head coach with Loudon. The club is 2-4-3 so far this season.
  • North Carolina FC notched its first ever victory over New York Red Bulls II last Friday. NCFC went down to 10 men in the 55th minute after a red card was issued to Donovan Ewolo, but NCFC finished out the 2-1 road victory behind goals from Sam Brotherton and Steven Miller.
  • Nashville SC extended its unbeaten streak to four games after a 0-0 draw on the road against Indy Eleven last Saturday. Recently acquired midfielder Derrick Jones — who is on an MLS contract with Nashville — made his first USL start of the season.
  • Santi Moar scored two goals in the second half to lead New Mexico United to a 3-1 win over Austin Bold FC last Saturday. New Mexico is now 6-1-6 this season, in first place in the Western Conference and also leads the league in scoring with 30 goals.
  • New Mexico’s start to this season is the third-best ever for an expansion side in the Championship. The club’s six wins and 24 points over its first 13 matches trails only the 2015 Colorado Switchbacks (eight wins, 24 points) and 2016 FC Cincinnati (eight wins, 27 points).
  • The leaders in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, extended their unbeaten streak to 13 games and notched their eighth shutout of the season in a 1-0 win over the Swope Park Rangers last Saturday. It was the second time this season a visiting side did not register a shot on goal at Tampa Bay.
  • For the second straight game, Hartford Athletic captured points. Sebastian Dalgaard scored Hartford’s goal, giving the team a 1-1 draw with the Ottawa Fury last Saturday.
  • Pittsburgh’s 2018 Best XI defender Joe Greenspan received a pair of yellow cards, and Charlotte’s Curtis Anderson grabbed three saves as the Riverhounds and Independence played to a 0-0 draw last Saturday.


  • In League One, Lansing Ignite have taken Diego Campos on loan from MLS side Chicago Fire. Campos, a 23-year-old Costa Rican forward, was the 38th overall pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft out of Clemson. Campos played in 23 MLS games as a rookie, scoring one goal and assisting on two others. He’s appeared in six Fire games so far this season.
  • Separate from its signing of Villareal, the Las Vegas Lights also added midfielder Jesus Gonzalez. The 27-year-old had been on trial with the club earlier this season.

Watch this

Fancy feet lead to a headed goal.

Unsaveable shot.

Good connection here for Orange County SC.

Santi Moar does a little dance around the keeper.

Zeiko Lewis from the corner.

Off the bounce, Owayne Gordon connects from distance.

No video, but this Memphis 901 FC supporter is headed to the NBA Finals.

They said it

ATL UTD 2 coach Stephen Glass on Laurent Kissiedou, following a 1-1 draw vs. Charleston: “He was dangerous throughout. He worked hard for the team, he was dangerous in terms of where he put the ball, the positions that he took up and the runs that he made.

Nashville SC coach Gary Smith on Derrick Jones: “He’s settled in brilliantly. He’s a great lad. I think the players have welcomed him well. There will still be some little issues with his relocation and getting himself in the city and adjusted to where he is, but as far as the team goes, he’s been magnificent. Very professional, he’s got all of the attributes that we’d seen when we were looking at him.”

Memphis 901 FC coach Tim Mulqueen on facing an MLS team in the U.S. Open Cup, via the Memphis Commercial Appeal: “Most of them have played with guys in the MLS, so there won’t be an awe factor. It’s not like we’re lining up against Barcelona. That would be a different story. But it’s exciting. It’ll be a great opportunity for them to show they belong, which I believe a lot of them do.”

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