SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has acquired Argentine forward Cristian Espinoza on a season-long loan from Spain’s Villarreal using Targeted Allocation Money. Espinoza will occupy an international spot on the Quakes’ roster, pending receipt of his P1 Visa and ITC.
“I’ve known Cristian since his days with Huracán and have had the pleasure of watching his development over the years,” said Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda. “I believe San Jose is a place he can thrive and make the next jump in his career. We’re looking forward to his contributions to the club and helping him realize his full potential.”
Espinoza, 23, has spent much of his time with Villarreal on loan elsewhere, most recently competing for Argentina’s Boca Juniors (2017-18), who reached the final of the 2018 Copa Libertadores.
“Cristian’s signing is the result of a collective effort over an extended period of time as both the player and Villarreal strongly believe that he will benefit under Matias’ guidance,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “When we outlined the qualities that we sought in an attacking player, namely to add speed and versatility both on and off the ball, Cristian checked all the boxes.”
A native of Buenos Aires, Espinoza climbed the youth ranks at Huracán before making his professional debut in March of 2013 at 17 years of age. He would make 53 appearances across all competitions for Huracán, tallying 11 goals and 11 assists before being acquired by Villarreal in August of 2016 by way of a reported $8 million transfer fee.
Espinoza was immediately loaned to Alavés, where he would make eight appearances with the club before returning to Villarreal. He was then loaned to Real Valladolid and proceeded to tally three assists in 10 appearances. He then spent time on loan in his native Argentina with Boca Juniors, finishing with two goals and two assists in 17 games, including two appearances during the 2018 Copa Libertadores.
Internationally, Espinoza made 11 appearances for the Argentina U-20s. He made six starts in eight total appearances for Argentina during the 2015 U-20 South American Championship, tallying five assists and leading his team to a 6-1-1 record in the tournament. He also competed at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, appearing in all three group stage matches, making one start and recording one assist. He then played in all three matches for Argentina during the 2016 Olympics in Rio, which also featured players such as Neymar (Brazil), Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Niklas Sule (Germany), Julian Brandt (Germany) and Hirving Lozano (Mexico). Espinoza was one of just five players to represent Argentina at both the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, joining Giovanni Simeone (Fiorentina), Ángel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Cristian Pavón (Boca Juniors) and Leandro Vega (River Plate).
Transaction: San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) – Earthquakes acquire Argentine forward Cristian Espinoza on a season-long loan using Targeted Allocation Money.
Weight: 154 lbs.
Born: April 3, 1995
Preferred Foot: Right
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Last Club: Villarreal (Spain)
Roster Designation: International