One of the small downfalls of Atlanta United not playing matches until March is the fact that the players they acquire need somewhere to play between now and then to stay fit. When you sign a talented player like Hector Villalba who is used to playing at a high level, they need a loan destination that will challenge them instead of going to the club's USL affiliate.
Club Tijuana in Liga MX is the loan team that all parties have agreed on for the Argentine forward to spend the next six months at according to a release from the Mexican club. Known by the affectionate nickname of "Xolos," they have plenty of ties to American soccer being located just a stone's throw away from San Diego. They currently have five USMNT eligible players on their senior team roster.
Villalba will join the club hoping to win as much playing time as possible to prepare for Atlanta United's training camp, which begins in January. Liga MX runs a split-season schedule with two seperate tables. Tijuana finished 14th in the Clasura table in the winter.
USMNT forward Paul Arriola could be one obstacle for the Atlanta United young DP to overcome for playing time. He has enjoyed a good run of form for both club and country lately.
Liga MX and the Argentine Primera Division are similar in styles. If Villalba can be successful in Mexico, there's no reason it can't translate to MLS.
Good luck to Tito in Mexico!
UPDATE: Atlanta United has finally confirmed the loan. He'll be available August 6 for Xolos!
“We’re pleased to have Tito on loan with Xolos in the Mexican top division,” said Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra. “He will be competing in a tough league which will challenge him and keep him sharp. He’ll also have several American teammates and will be in close proximity to the United States which will allow him to begin working on his English language skills.”