Orlando City SC added a pair of new faces to its roster as the club announced it has acquired midfielder Jose Villarreal from the LA Galaxy and signed Libyan left back Mohamed El-Munir. The Lions sent their third-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft to the Galaxy in exchange for Villarreal’s rights.
A California native, Villarreal joins Orlando City at the age of 24, after spending the first six seasons of his professional career with the LA Galaxy. A product of the club’s Academy, he was part of the Galaxy’s MLS Cup-winning rosters of 2012 and 2014 and amassed 70 MLS matches with the club, registering five goals and nine assists.
Villarreal, who also played for Mexican club Cruz Azul in 2014, was part of the U.S. U-18, U-20, and U-23 National Teams and is expected to compete for a starting spot in Orlando’s midfield after the departures of Kaká and Giles Barnes.
“We are pleased to add Jose,” Orlando City’s General Manager Budalic said in a club press release. “He’s an attack-minded player that we feel can contribute in several different roles.”
El-Munir, 25, will be the first Libyan to ever play for Orlando City and will occupy an international roster spot. Part of his country’s national team since 2012, he has appeared for Libya in each of the last two FIFA World Cup qualifying cycles and has 15 matches and three goals in his international career.
The left back, who will compete for a starting spot with Donny Toia, was signed from Serbia’s national champions, FK Partizan Belgrade. He also played for Belarus’ FC Dinamo Minsk in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, making 10 appearances in UEFA Europa League qualifiers and five in the Europa League competition, scoring two goals.
“Mohamed brings considerable experience in Europe and on the international stage,” Budalic added. “His great pace, ability on the ball and defensive solidity make him a nice fit for our squad. We can’t wait to get him into camp.”
El-Munir started his professional career on Libya’s Al-Ittihad Tripoli in 2010 and was transferred to Serbia’s Jagodina in 2011. In 2012, he impressed the country by playing 35 minutes of a match against rivals BSK Borca with a fractured foot.
With the new arrivals, the Lions have now four new faces heading to the 2018 MLS season as they acquired right back RJ Allen and forward Stefano Pinho last week, in addition to re-signing midfielder Dillon Powers.