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Villarreal, Baca sent to Cruz Azul Hidalgo

JoseVillarrealRafaelBacaMichaelFarfantoCruzAzul1 (MexSport)


If Jose Villarreal is going to impress the folks at Cruz Azul enough to secure a permanent transfer, he will have to do so playing in the Mexican second division.

Villarreal and former San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Rafael Baca have been loaned out to Cruz Azul Hidalgo of the Liga de Ascensc for the rest of the Clausura season.

Neither Villarreal or Baca has made an appearance with Cruz Azul’s first team, though Baca did dress for some matches for the current Liga MX leaders.

Former Philadelpha Union midfielder Michael Farfan has stayed with the Cruz Azul first team, though he too has yet to make an appearance for the club.

Baca and Farfan joined Cruz Azul via transfer, with Villarreal joining on a one-year loan with what sources tell MLS is a $1 million purchase option.

Villarreal’s loan to Cruz Azul turned some heads because of Villarreal’s status as one of the more highly-regarded youth prospects in MLS, but with Bruce Arena not seeing Villarreal as a major contributor in 2014, he sent the former U.S. Under-20 standout to Mexico instead.


  1. Moving to Liga MX from MLS comes with a fatter paycheck, but it has been a career-killer for several U.S. players (see Bornstein, Jonathan).

    Baca isn’t Mexican-American, he’s a Mexican citizen, although he came up through the U.S. college system. I’m sorry to hear he can’t crack the first team – he was a good player for San Jose.

  2. Too bad, but this was coming. The coach didn’t care about the players and they were brought by an agent who is friends with the Cruz Azul president.

    Not to mention there is a bit of an attitude towards mexican-americans in southern Mexico.They should have gone to a northern club.

  3. Sounds about right. Villareal was just a bench warmer on LA – I don’t think anybody thought that he’d be able to walk into Cruz Azul and get minutes. Probly should have loaned him to an NASL side without the option to buy. 1M seems like a good deal for him now, but he could potentially be worth more in the future. If Cruz Azul sees anything worth their time, they’ll snatch him from LA.

  4. This sounds like a situation that would have been taylor-made to utilize the Galaxy’s lower-division team to get Villareal consistent playing time. I wonder why that was a no-go? Villereal’s salary too high to fit within that team’s budget?…

  5. We need to develop a way to for players in the 18-22 year old range to make the transition from youth soccer to the first team. Otherwise, we risk not getting the best out of guys like Villarreal.

    • I think he is slightly ahead of the curve there. If he were being signed today as a 16 year old, he could develop with the Galaxy II. Hopefully he will be one of the last casualties of the lack of a development system for 18-23 year olds in the Galaxy system.

    • I think we are in the midst of that being done w/ MLS development academies, and especially now at LA with their USL B team. At this stage of things, Villarreal at LA is somewhat a unique case as he is further along/needs a bigger challenge than USL provides, could likely get some playing time elsewhere in MLS, yet he has too much talented competition to break into the Galaxy lineup. Sending him out on loan to Cruz Azul is actually a pretty damn creative solution by Arena… a new challenge, environment good training w/ high level players where he needs to continue to prove himself. 2nd Div Mx is certainly tougher than USL. And… if CA signs him for 1m the Galaxy are golden, if he returns, it’ll likely be as a better player. Personally I hope he returns.

  6. I’m not sure why more teams aren’t doing MLS inter league loans. Villarreal is good enough to play for many MLS teams. MLS has to be better than Mexican second division. Oh well.

    • No way an MLS team would have a transfer with a option to buy at $1MM. I personally feel this move is all about depth at forward and needed $$ cap space. Personally I would have liked to have seen him stay at LAG II, but one has to wonder if this transfer deal was finalized before LAG II confirmed.

  7. I don’t think this should be a surprise. If Villareal were good enough to play for Cruz Azul then Arena would have found a spot for him on the LAG and not loaned him out in the first place. This set up gives Villareal an opportunity to play and at the end of it the LAG get a better player or $1M.

    • Possibly also gives Villareal a needed swift kick in the butt. He didn’t improve at all during the course of last season. You have to wonder if the Bruce is not a fan of his work habits.

  8. The Mexican second division is not that far below MLS. So it’s not that big of a deal.
    At least it’s better than ridden the bench in LA

      • No, not at all. Keane, Zardes, Samuel, Friend, McBean and when we need it Donovan all are forwards. No room at all for Villareal, Keane is getting old and Friend is no spring chicken so I’m hoping Bruce wants to bring Villareal back next year.

        Pretty ridiculous though that you can loan out a loanee o_O

      • I have the feeling that LA is expecting Zardes to have a breakout year. We’ll see. Villarreal looked good in the U-20’s, so I think we shouldn’t give up on him.

      • Zardes looks much more comfortable/composed and has had a few pretty stellar finishes in preseason action. I wouldn’t be surprised.

      • LA II is likely where he would have played. so as much as this stinks, Mexican 2nd division is at a higher level than USL Pro.

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