The LA Galaxy sold Brazilian midfielder Juninho to Club Tijuana Thursday, the latest in a series of big changes for the powerhouse MLS club.
Juninho has been a staple in the LA midfield during its latest run of championships, helping the club to three MLS Cup titles, but he joins Omar Gonzalez (signed with Pachuca) as key departures for the team this week. Along with Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake to Queretaro) and Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers to Santos Laguna), it marks the latest in an exodus of players from MLS to Liga MX.
Juninho, a 26-year-old Sao Paulo native, will play for former Mexico manager Miguel Herrera at Tijuana, where he has signed a three-year deal, according to the club. He accounted for 18 goals and 23 assists in 187 appearances for the Galaxy, where he put in the majority of his work as the anchor of the club's otherwise star-studded midfield. After winning MLS Cups in 2011, 2012 and 2014, Juninho earned his first MLS All-Star nod in 2015.
His ability to spray the ball around the field and be the metronome in the center along with his knack for goals from distance put him in the top tier of MLS players at his position.
Juninho wrote the following to the Galaxy supporters upon his departure:
With Juninho ($350,000) and Gonzalez ($1.45 million) gone, the Galaxy have cleared $1.8 million from their salary expenditures (according to the latest MLS Players Union documents), while bringing in two undisclosed transfer fees. Goal.com reports that the fee for Juninho was in the $1.5 million range.
Juninho won't have to wait long to face his now-former teammates. Tijuana and the Galaxy play in a friendly on Feb. 9 at StubHub Center.