Atlanta United today announced the signing of 21-year-old forward Hector “Tito” Villalba as a Young Designated Player, pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and ITC. Villalba comes to Atlanta from Argentine Primera División club San Lorenzo.
“Hector is an exciting player, and one of the top young talents in Argentina,” said Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra. “He is a powerful, pacey attacking player who can play out wide or up top. We really like his competitive and industrious style.”
Villalba was selected to join Buenos Aires based San Lorenzo at age 10, and came up through the club’s youth system. He made his professional debut in August 2012 playing under technical director Ricardo Caruso. At only 21-years-old, Villalba has made over 100 first team appearances for San Lorenzo scoring 16 goals.
“We’re thrilled to have Hector’s signature. He has a high fitness capacity and an eye for goal,” said Bocanegra. “We think he will fit in perfectly within our system and within the MLS style of play.”
In 2013, Villalba was part of the San Lorenzo squad that placed first in the Primera Division’s Torneo Inicial, the first tournament of the season. San Lorenzo finished first in the tournament gaining entry into the 2014 Copa Libertadores. The side advanced out of the group stage with a 2-2-2 record, but were seeded 15th heading into the Round of 16. San Lorenzo then rallied for four straight wins to lift the trophy as club champions of CONMEBOL. Villalba started all 8 knock-out stage matches including both final legs of the competition. He rounded out 2015 as part of the San Lorenzo squad that won the Supercopa Argentina with a 4–0 victory over Boca Juniors.
“We’re very happy to have Hector signed with our club,” said Atlanta United president Darren Eales. “We’ve been monitoring him for a long time and really like his talent and pedigree. He’s a young DP who already has a lot of experience at the top level of the game and has exceptional potential to develop further. Hector is moving into the prime of his career, so it’s exciting for us and for the future of the league that he has chosen to join Atlanta United and play in MLS.”
Villalba will be on loan for the remainder of the year and will arrive in Atlanta in January.