SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has permanently acquired Cristian Espinoza from Spain’s Villarreal CF by way of a club-record transfer fee and signed him to a multi-year Designated Player contract.
“Cristian was a very important player for us this year,” said Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda. “His qualities are not easily replicated and I’m happy he will continue with us.”
Espinoza, 24, became the Earthquakes’ first newcomer since 2008 to win the Offensive Player of the Year award after finishing the season with two goals and a team-best 13 assists. Espinoza was just the sixth Quakes player to record 13+ assists in a single season and the first since 2012. He also recorded a goal and two assists in two U.S. Open Cup matches.
The native of Buenos Aires, Argentina was widely considered one the top newcomers in all of Major League Soccer in 2019. He ranked sixth league-wide in assists and tied for third in game-winning assists (5), while also finishing top-10 in dribbles per game (3rd; 2.5), key passes per game (8th; 2.8) and crosses per game (10th; 1.5), per WhoScored.
“We’re incredibly excited to make Cristian Espinoza a centerpiece of our team moving forward,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “He embraces the spirit of serving his teammates like few do whether it be in front of goal or when in need of support. He had a tremendous impact on our club as well as our fans in 2019 and made it clear throughout our talks with Villarreal that he wanted to play for San Jose and San Jose only. For this reason, I want to thank Cristian for his commitment to our club as well as our Board of Directors for their support and investment in the direction we’re headed.”
Espinoza averaged 0.46 assists per 90 minutes in MLS play, higher than New England’s Carles Gil, Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro and Toronto’s Alejandro Pozuelo. Espinoza also assisted on six goals scored by Chris Wondolowski, tied for second most by any tandem in MLS.
Transaction: San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) – Earthquakes acquire M Cristian Espinoza on a permanent transfer from Spain’s Villarreal CF and sign him to a multi-year Designated Player contract.