Mexican club Cruz Azul presented three MLS players -- U.S. U-20 star Jose Villarreal
(LA Galaxy), former
U.S. U-17 midfielder Michael Farfan
(Philadelphia) and Mexican midfielder Rafael Baca
(San Jose) -- among its six new
signings for Liga MX's Torneo Clausura that begins Jan. 3. MLS Careers: Jose Villarreal
GP: 32, G: 3, A: 3. Michael Farfan
(age: 25) GP: 82, G: 4, A: 9. Rafael Baca
(age: 24), GP: 79, G: 2, A: 9.
Cruz Azul sporting director Agustin Manzo
told reporters that he is friends with Curt Onalfo
, who played in Mexico, and the LA Galaxy assistant had told him about the players. MLS clubs did not confirm the moves for players all still under contract.
three players are of Mexican descent and will not count as foreigners in the Liga MX. Villarreal -- who grew up a household that supported Cruz Azul -- and Farfan -- whose twin brother plays for
Chivas USA -- were born and raised in Southern California. Baca was born in the state of Michoacan and grew up in Villarreal's hometown of Inglewood.
La Maquina finished fourth in the
Torneo Apertura and lost to Toluca in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. Following the fall campaign, Cruz Azul hired Luis Fernando Tena
as head coach. Tena had
coached Mexico Olympic team to the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and he had served as national team coach for Mexico's World Cup qualifier against the USA in September after José Manuel de la Torre
One of the players Cruz Azul signed for the Torneo Clausura is one of Tena's protege's Marco Fabian
, from Guadalajara.