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Tito Villalba relishing recent opportunities

The forward is putting his injuries behind him.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Philadelphia Union James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Tito Villalba’s 2018 season has gotten off to a much different start than his 2017 season did. Through the 19th match of Atlanta United’s campaign, Villalba has scored just three goals and assisted two others compared to his first season’s tally of eight goals and four assists through the same amount of games.

Much of this diminished output has to do with two separate injuries he picked up earlier this campaign that forced him to miss five matches in total. His absence was a notable one since the Argentina native didn’t miss a single MLS game during Atlanta’s inaugural season.

However, since returning from his latest injury last month, Villalba is regaining his form and helping the team. No two plays showcased this better than his assist against FC Dallas and goal against the Philadelphia Union last week.

“If I’m injured, then I can’t score goals,” said Villalba to reporters on Tuesday morning. “I think so far it’s been a tough year for me with all the injuries. No one wants to be injured. If it was my choice, I would play every game just like I did last season. Now, it’s like I’m just getting started again. I’m getting back with the team and doing everything I can to help provide goals and assists.”

Villalba made it clear that the team’s accomplishments far outweigh his own, as he tries to help in any way he can while still getting re-adjusted to consistent playing time.

“I think aside from scoring the goals, it’s most important that the team’s winning,” said Villalba. “It’s important for us to keep getting three points from these matches because there are some other teams that are close to us in the standings. Whether it’s me or other guys scoring goals, it doesn’t matter.”

Then again, he definitely won’t complain if he shows up on the stat sheet.

“If I’m the one, it’s certainly OK with me.”