Villalba didn’t disappoint in his first season, scoring 13 goals with 11 assists. He was one of a handful players in the league to reach double-digit totals in both categories. His contract was bought down after the season, turning him from a DP into a TAM player, to make way for Ezequiel Barco. Villalba had a guaranteed salary of $830,249.96, according to the Major League Soccer Players Association database.
May 12, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Hector Villalba drives past Orlando City defender Alex De John during the second half in a 1-0 victory during a MLS soccer match on Sunday, May 12, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Comptonfirstname.lastname@example.org
Villalba followed that with seven goals and nine assists in 2018, but his appearance total fell from 34 to 28 and he lost his starting spot near the end of the season and in the playoffs because then-manager Gerardo Martino switched from a 4-3-3 formation to a 3-5-2.
Frank de Boer followed Martino and Villalba made only 20 appearances in 2019, a season in which he sustained several injuries that limited his availability.
Neither team vice president Carlos Bocanegra nor de Boer would comment Tuesday.
If sold, Villalba would follow the departures of Julian Gressel, Darlington Nagbe and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez from Atlanta.
Villalba was seen as a winger or second striker by de Boer. The team’s remaining players at those positions include Brooks Lennon, Jake Mulraney, Ezequiel Barco, Pity Martinez and Luiz Nascimento.
Villalba was one of Atlanta United’s supporter’s favorite players because of his ties as the first DP, his speed, his courage to take on any defender, his movie-star looks and ability to score crucial goals in crucial games. His 30-yard strike against Orlando in 2017 was voted the MLS Goal of the Year.