2017 24 Under 24 - No. 8 - Hector Villalba
Rudy Calderon/MLSsoccer.com

Hector Villalba | 24 Under 24

#8

Hector Villalba

AGE: 23

COUNTRY: Argentina

POSITION: Forward

CLUB: Atlanta United

YEARS PRO: 6

Hector “Tito” Villalba has more than lived up to his billing as the first major signing in Atlanta United history. The Argentine attacker primarily lines up on the wing, but is capable of effectively lining up at striker, too.

Regardless of where he’s playing, Villalba is a major headache for opposing defenses. One of the faster players in all of MLS, his speed opens plenty of room for fellow Atlanta attackers Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez and Yamil Asad, and is a big reason why the Five Stripes offense has been so dominant this season. Though his final product isn't always clean, he’s still racked up some very impressive stats in 2017, scoring 12 goals and recording 10 assists in 30 appearances. 

What the technical staffers say:

"Threatens the backline in every thing he does. If the center backs aren’t aware, if their depth isn’t perfect, he’s going to run by them … All of [Atlanta’s big] attacking players are wonderful, wonderful players in the counterattacking style. If we can get numbers behind and slow things down, they show up less, they do not have the impact on the game as they do in these wide-open affairs… you have to force these offensive guys to defend … first thing that comes to mind is lightning-quick … can play up top or out wide … tough to defend – you’ve to give him space because of his pace, even if you have three yards on him, he’ll catch up to the ball over the top … Almiron can find a lot of space in the pockets because defenders have to drop and respect Villalba’s pace … tends to push center backs deep and that creates space in front of them … hungry… good timing on his runs … can improve his technique and cleanliness around goal … creates both highlight-reel goals and tap-ins due to his work rate and hunger."

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