On the 2015 U.S. U-17 World Cup team
, one of the top-rated players was forward Joe Gallardo
But while players like Christian Pulisic
and Tyler Adams
have gone to become U.S. national team stars and play in the UEFA Champions League, Gallardo's career languished and he found himself out of pro soccer in 2018.
Three years later, Gallardo made his Liga MX debut with Queretaro on Sunday, entering the Gallos Blancos' 1-0 win over Atlas as a late sub. The debut came two weeks after he signed with Queretaro after playing his four minutes in 2020 for the Real Monarchs in the USL Championship.
Born and raised in San Diego, where he played for the Nomads, the Mexican-American drew interest from Monterrey after a standout performance at the Dallas Cup and enrolled in Monterrey's academy program in December 2012, right before his 15th birthday.
A broken tibia suffered at the 2014 Copa Mexico de Naciones was followed by a second broken tibia in training during the 2015 Concacaf U-17 qualifying tournament, and Gallardo left Monterrey in 2016 without breaking into its first team.
He found himself without a club in 2018 when Orlando City B decided to sit down the USL season, but his comeback began in 2019 when dropped down to the USL League One and played for the Richmond Kickers.
Gallardo led the Kickers with six goals and was named to the League One Best XI, earning a transfer to the reigning USL Championship champion Real Monarchs in 2020, where he made just one appearance in the COVID-shortened season.