Greg Garza hopes to bring "expansion luck" to FC Cincinnati

Greg Garza - Atlanta United - solo

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — From the US men’s national team January camp training ground at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, Greg Garza can almost see his house.

“It’s like right over there,” he said, pointing toward a ridge on the horizon.

He’s renting the residence out now, but during the five seasons he spent at Club Tijuana, he called the area home.

“I was [with Tijuana] for the first year,” he told Wednesday, remembering the Xolos expansion campaign in 2011. “The first year was a bit difficult and the second year we were champions.”

Garza spent three more years with the Liga MX club and a brief loan stint with Guadalajara outfit Atlas before joining Atlanta United for their expansion season in 2017. The 27-year-old started 25 matches for ATL UTD in 2017, but endured an injury-plagued 2018 that forced him to miss two-thirds of the regular season. He was able to return for the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, starting all five matches for Tata Martino.

“I guess you can kind of say the same about Atlanta,” the defender said, suggesting a pattern. “Although the first year was amazing and the second year we were champions.”

Last month, only a few days after winning MLS Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Garza was traded to FC Cincinnati in exchange for $450,000 in total allocation money. The move meant he will be part of a third club launching experience.

“Hopefully I can bring this expansion luck to Cincinnati,” the 27-year-old said. “I’m not sure if that gives them another reason of why they hired me, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Garza mentioned that he’s already in a group text with Fanendo Adi, Kendall Waston, and several other FCC players as they get to know each other before their inaugural season opens on March 2 in Seattle.

Asked whether the move from Atlanta came as a surprise, the left back revealed he’d been privy to the potential trade before it took place.

“I’m at the point in my life to where I’ve been a pro for pretty long and the most important thing for me is family so their security for me was a big part of this decision,” he said. “I think that the conditions in general of what Cincinnati had to offer for my family and I to be interested in that move played a huge part in everything.”

Despite his involvement in the process, the move took a toll.

“It was definitely heartbreaking news for a lot of people and also for the family because you’ve got to pick up and move again,” Garza said. “But I think at the end of the day as I said before, the most important thing is the family’s security and the conditions and we’ve got to take advantage of it as much as we can since this career isn’t very long for us.”