By DAN KARELL
Even though Michael Farfan, Rafael Baca, and Jose Villarreal had been presented as a new signings with Cruz Azul on Sunday, there was strangely still no word from any of the Major League Soccer clubs until mid-day Monday.
The Philadelphia Union became the first club to confirm the deal with the San Jose Earthquakes following close behind, stating that Farfan and Baca have made permanent transfers to Cruz Azul. According to the Union’s and Earthquakes’ press release, the transfer is still subject to the “finalization of agreement” with Cruz Azul. Citing league and team policies, terms of the deal were not disclosed. (UPDATE 1:30pm: The LA Galaxy have confirmed that Villarreal is joining Cruz Azul on a 12-month loan with an option to buy)
“Michael has been an important member for our club both on and off the field over the past three years,” Union manager John Hackworth said in a statement. “We thank him for his contributions to the Union and wish him the best of luck as he continues his career in Mexico.”
Originally selected by the Union as the 23rd overall selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Farfan scored four goals and added nine assists in 82 league matches, including 66 starts. Though 25-year-old midfielder is a former member of the U.S. Under-17 and Under-20 sides, he has Mexican citizenship through his parents and won’t count as a foreigner on Cruz Azul’s roster.
Baca, a Mexican national who has lived in the United States since his adolescent years, also joined MLS in 2011 after a four-year career with Loyola Marymount University. In his time with the Earthquakes, Baca played 81 times in the regular season and playoffs combined, scoring two goals and adding nine assists.
Villarreal, a homegrown signing who has starred for the U.S. U-17s and U-20s as recently as this past summer at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, played in just a season and a half with the Galaxy first team. The 20-year-old forward appeared in 34 games with the Galaxy in MLS play, scoring three goals and adding two assists, though he started only three times in the final three months of the 2013 season. Villarreal was a key member of the Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League campaign in the last two seasons though, featuring ten times (with eight starts) and scoring two goals.
“Sending Jose Villarreal to Cruz Azul provides one of our Homegrown players an opportunity to gain additional experience,” LA Galaxy general manager and head coach Bruce Arena said in a statement on the club’s website. “We’ll monitor Jose’s play with Cruz Azul and wish him well while in Mexico.”
What do you think of this news? Surprised that the Union would sell Farfan? Do you see Farfan, Baca, and Villarreal receiving regular playing time with Cruz Azul? Which MLS club loses out the most from this deal?
Share your thoughts below.