Atlanta United announced the acquisition of Club Tijuana defender Greg Garza on a season-long loan on Friday, further boosting the 2017 expansion side's back line.
To complete the signing, Atlanta sent a conditional second-round selection in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft to Columbus Crew SC, who held Garza’s Discovery rights.
“Greg has represented the United States on several occasions and we’re thrilled to be able to add a player of his quality,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said in a club release. “In addition to his caps at the international level, Greg has experienced top-level competition in Liga MX. To continue to attract players with his international background is a great sign for our club.”
Garza, 25, was born in Grapevine, Texas but has spent most of his soccer career abroad, with youth stints in academies at Sao Paulo and Sporting Lisbon. He signed with Tijuana in Dec 2011 and has made 84 career appearances for Xolos, including six appearances in CONCACAF Champions League and four appearances in Copa Libertadores.
“Greg is a quality left back who’s profile fits in nicely with our style of play,” ATL UTD technical director Carlos Bocanegra said. “He has the ability to get up-and-down the line to contribute to both sides of the ball, and his experience in Mexico, along with the US national team, brings another quality dimension to our team.”
Garza helped Tijuana win the 2012 Liga MX Apertura championship as a regular starter at left back for the Baja California club, and earned his US national team debut vs. the Czech Republic in Sept. 2014 before making it on to Jurgen Klinsmann's Gold Cup roster the following summer.
Injuries have hampered his progress in recent years, however, with hip, sports hernia and concussion issues limiting his playing time at Tijuana and on a previous loan stint at Atlas. This winter he turned his attention towards a move to MLS as he seeks to regain his form and attract the attention of new USMNT boss Bruce Arena.
“It's a huge opportunity for me to get back into the national team and to get back playing regularly,” Garza told Goal USA earlier this month. “The past year and a half have been difficult for me, coming off a pretty excruciating [hip] surgery and just working as hard as I could to get back in the mix here in Mexico and having spent the past five, six months not really having that opportunity to get back in that mix of playing regularly.
“It's been a long road, but hopefully this can be a good move to get me back in the mix and get my name up there again hopefully.”