The 2015 Major League Soccer season got underway on Friday, March 6, and it was a former Development Academy forward who kicked things off with the league’s first goal of the new campaign.
LA Galaxy’s Jose Villarreal, who won a national title with Pateadores and then represented the LA Galaxy Academy, tallied an unassisted 65th-minute goal that proved to be the game-winner during the Galaxy’s 2-0 victory against the Chicago Fire.
Predominantly a forward for much of his playing days, the 21-year-old is making a move to the midfield.
“We have a lot of forwards, and we asked him to make this transition to midfield,” LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “It’s a bit challenging, but he has worked real hard to get fit. I thought [Friday] he showed that, and he did in his last couple of preseason games. We’re pretty excited about his development.”
Hamid, Birnbaum Anchor Defense in D.C. United’s Shutout Win: D.C. United Academy alum Bill Hamid and Pateadores product Steve Birnbaum helped D.C. maintain a shutout, topping the Montreal Impact 1-0 on Saturday. Hamid made three saves for his 31st-career clean sheet.
Three Academy alumni made their professional debuts over the weekend. Sporting Kansas City defender Amadou Dia, formerly of Real Colorado, played the full 90 minutes during 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Sporting Park. Abdul-Fatai Alashe earned his first MLS cap as the Vardar product went the final nine minutes during the San Jose Earthquakes’ 1-0 loss to FC Dallas. New York City FC’s Khiry Shelton earned 28 minutes in his MLS debut as the Lonestar SC product replaced Mehdi Ballouchy in the second half of a 1-1 draw.
In the FC Dallas match, Academy product Moises Hernandez assisted Blas Perez’s winning goal.
Overseas, former IMG Academy forward Aron Johannsson scored a goal for AZ Alkmaar – his third in his past four Eredivisie games – during a loss to Utrecht.