A pair of USL players have just made the jump to MLS.
The Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake announced on Tuesday that they have signed players from their USL affiliates. The Dynamo agreed to terms with Rio Grande Valley FC defender Kevin Garcia, and Real Salt Lake added homegrown forward Ricardo Velazco from Real Monarchs.
Garcia, 26, captained Rio Grande Valley FC this season. He appeared in 25 games for the club in 2016, and helped the expansion club post a league-record 760-minute shutout streak.
“Kevin has been a key leader and consistent performer this season for our USL team RGV FC,” Dynamo VP/general manager Matt Jordan said in a statement released by the MLS club. “He’s earned this opportunity with the first team by demonstrating a hardworking and professional attitude on a day-to-day basis. We look forward to his continued growth with our club.”
The 23-year-old Velazco, meanwhile, joins Real Salt Lake after having a breakout season in his second year with the Monarchs. He led the team with eight goals, and was previously a player with the Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy. Velazco is the first player to progress from that academy to the Monarchs and then to Real Salt Lake.
"From an organizational standpoint we are really proud that Ricardo is the first player that has followed the complete progression route from the Academy through the USL team and now to the first team," RSL general manager Craig Waibel said in a statement released by the MLS side. "Ricardo has performed well enough to capitalize on this opportunity and he has earned it. For the organization, this is a proud day and with the new facility in Herriman coming in the next 12 months, we will certainly see more and more players follow in Ricardo's footsteps as we grow."