It won’t be his first.
“I was telling my dad when they were about to pick, I remember going in to go get my [David] Beckham jersey right after he was signed,” Hilliard-Arce told reporters just after the Galaxy selected him with the No. 2 pick in Friday’s 2018 MLS SuperDraft. “To have a Galaxy jersey without me having to buy one is pretty cool. And just to be able to continue the tradition of winning and being in contention for MLS Cups, I think, is great.”
Hilliard-Arce knows a lot about a winning tradition himself, having led Stanford to three straight national championships.
And the Galaxy charted his college career closely — particularly LA assistant coach Dom Kinnear, who was nearby in the Bay Area as the former head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes.
“I’ve seen a lot of him,” said Kinnear, who spoke to the media after the draft because Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid did not make the trip to Philadelphia. “He’s a great competitor, a good athlete, especially in the air, and has a wonderful attitude. Stanford kids are generally on the smarter side of things. When you look at it, he’s a winner.”
Given Hilliard Arce's experience compared to others in the draft, could the finalist for this year’s MAC Hermann Trophy award come in right away and compete for a starting spot in LA?
“You never know,” Kinnear said. “You hope so, you want guys pressing for minutes, but we’ll find out more in the preseason. The jump from the college game to the professional game can be a daunting one at times. But I think the kid has the attitude to make a good impression in the preseason.”
Hilliard-Arce believes he is ready to surprise some people at the next level, pointing to the fact that he wasn’t even a top college recruit at before emerging as one of the most successful amateur players in the country.
“I’m here to make an impact right away,” he said. “I’m here to compete. I’m here to push people to get better and I hope people will do the same to me.
“I won in college and I refuse to do anything but win in MLS.”