Photo by Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports
By DAN KARELL
Benji Joya has played his last match with the Chicago Fire, and could be heading way south of the border for the next destination of his career.
The Chicago Fire declined their option to buy that they had on Joya’s season-long loan deal, leaving the 21-year-old to return to Santos Laguna this winter. Joya could be headed elsewhere though for next season, with options in both Major League Soccer and in Argentina’s Primera Division, Joya’s agent Maximiliano Roditis confirmed to SBI.
It’s not clear yet which clubs are interested in Joya, but Roditis is currently in Argentina negotiating Joya’s move.
Joya endured a frustrating first season in MLS with the Fire, playing only 12 times with nine starts and one goal. The 21-year-old midfielder only played once for the Fire, a six minute substitute appearance, after July 1, sitting out 19 of the last 20 games of the season.
The Fire declined to reveal whether Joya was coming back next season, stating that they would release roster information in early December.
Despite his lack of playing time, Joya has remained an integral piece of a potential U.S. Olympic squad. Joya was called up to the U.S. Under-21 Men’s National Team last April and earned two selections to the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team for a match against the Bahamas in August and a match against Brazil in October.
The San Jose, Calif.-native scored a pair of goals in the U.S. U-21’s victory over Club Tijuana and started both games for the U.S. U-23’s this fall.
Joya, a dual national with Mexican and American citizenship, joined Santos Laguna’s academy in 2012 and made his professional debut as a 19-year-old, a day after his birthday, in a scoreless draw with Chiapas.
What do you think of this development? Would you like to see Joya move to Argentina? Do you think he should head to Europe? What went wrong for him in Chicago?
Share your thoughts below.