Jaime Villarreal is enjoying his first season in Sacramento after starring for LA Galaxy and Los Dos.
In most sports, soccer included, the player who scores gets most of the glory. But, any great soccer player will tell you, the elite passers make the game much easier for everyone. Sacramento Republic FC’s Jaime Villarreal puts himself in the latter category. When I ask him how it feels to set up a teammate, Jaime says, “That’s the most joy I get out of playing, setting up a teammate, and seeing them score. I would rather take an assist than a goal.”
He credits his father for molding his ability on the ball, passing, and dribbling when he was 10 or 11 years old. “My dad used to train us and it was all technical work. I think that helped me out a lot,” he explains. When he says “us”, he’s referring to himself and his brother, Orlando City SC midfielder Jose Villarreal.
Not only is Jose his brother, but he was also his teammate when both played for the LA Galaxy and LA Galaxy II. “It was very special. Personally, I enjoyed it so much because he was already in the league for a couple years and he always gave me good advice,” Jaime says. “For my family, to be able to support both of us at the same time on the same team, it was great for them.” Outside of soccer, Jaime is not quick to give his brother any props. He claims, “Overall, I’m better than him at everything. The only thing he is better at that me is throwing with his left hand because he’s left-handed, but that’s it.”
This offseason, both players departed the organization, Jose by trade and Jaime as a free agent. Now, Jaime is playing his soccer up north from where he spent his entire youth academy and professional career. “So far, this experience has been great. This new chapter has taught me so much. This is the first time I’ve lived away from home. I’m enjoying every bit and staying focused for the end of the season,” he says. The creative midfielder has tallied three assists and 23 key passes for Sacramento Republic FC, while connecting on 86% of his 898 passes. Sacramento currently sits 3rd in the USL’s Western Conference standings.
He thinks this success can carry over from the USL’s regular season to the postseason for Republic FC. “I think we will be very good in the playoffs. We have a good chance of winning the championship and hopefully, we make that dream happen,” says Villarreal. Jaime and the rest of Republic FC will look to continue their push to the playoffs tonight as they face Saint Louis FC in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3.