TRANSFER TRACKER: Signing
Cristian Espinoza is here to stay in MLS, as the San Jose Earthquakes announced Wednesday that they’ve signed the Argentine winger from Villarreal CF for a club-record transfer fee. He's also inked a multi-year Designated Player contract.
“Cristian was a very important player for us this year,” said San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda in a statement. “His qualities are not easily replicated and I’m happy he will continue with us.”
Espinoza, 24, spent last year on loan from the La Liga club and was a central figure as Almeyda engineered a turnaround for the Western Conference side. All told, Espinoza registered two goals and a team-best 13 assists across 30 appearances. He was also shown two red cards.
“We’re incredibly excited to make Cristian Espinoza a centerpiece of our team moving forward,” said Earthquakes GM Jesse Fioranelli. “He embraces the spirit of serving his teammates like few do whether it be in front of goal or when in need of support.
“He had a tremendous impact on our club as well as our fans in 2019 and made it clear throughout our talks with Villarreal that he wanted to play for San Jose and San Jose only. For this reason, I want to thank Cristian for his commitment to our club, as well as our Board of Directors, for their support and investment in the direction we’re headed.”
With Espinoza playing an outsized role, San Jose went 13-16-5 during their first season under Almeyda. They finished eighth in the Western Conference, missing out on the final Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot.