CARSON, Calif. – Jose Villarreal's first big international experienced has whetted his appetite for more, and he returned to the LA Galaxy from the FIFA U-20 World Cup thinking about what could be in his future.
The 19-year-old forward, who started all three group-stage games up top for the US Under-20 national team, knows he has much room to grow to get there and that a lot of it will come with the Galaxy. He hopes to see some time Thursday when LA takes on Columbus at the StubHub Center.
“[My mindset is to] get back in training, work hard, and if I do well during training and show well, I'll get my minutes,” Villarreal said after rejoining the Galaxy on Monday. “It doesn't matter if I get five or 35 or a whole 90. I've just got to be able to have a solid performance.”
Villarreal says he wasn't “very happy with the way I played” in Turkey with the US and wants to correct that quickly now that he's back with LA. He's started 10 matches this season for the Galaxy, seven in league play.
“I don't think it was one of my best performances with the U-20s,” he said. “And I just want to get back in rhythm. I wasn't really supposed to train today, but I just wanted to train and get back in with this team. I just want to start playing well again.”
Villarreal, who was joined by Galaxy teammate Oscar Sorto in Turkey, was surprised by the pace of the games, noting that it was “just a lot faster” and that “these guys [we played against], the way they train, they definitely train at a higher pace than us.”
“Even though the results didn't go well for us, it was a learning experience for all of us, to see where other teams and other nations stand in front of us,” he said. “To [get] in our heads that we have to work harder and get to that level.”
Doing so is Villarreal's goal. He wants to play in more World Cups.
“I think this [experience] was good,” he said. “You've got to take it step by step, and I think this is one of those steps where I had to be a part of. Now from here just keep moving forward, hopefully make the Olympic cycle or something like that or even get called into a camp in the future with the [USA's] first team.
“Most of the players you see now with the first team have gone through either U-20 World Cup or some type of U-20 involvement, so it was good I got to be part of that, and hopefully I move forward from there.”