AKRON, Ohio – University of Akron junior Bryan Gallego has agreed to terms on a Homegrown contract with the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer and will forgo his final year of eligibility at UA to turn professional.
With the signing, the Zips pipeline to professional soccer grows stronger as Gallego becomes the 21st UA player to sign with a pro team in MLS or overseas since 2007. Moreover, UA will have the opportunity to add to that number when the 2014 MLS SuperDraft takes center stage in Philadelphia Thursday, Jan. 16, at Noon on ESPNews.
As the newest member of Caleb Porter's Timbers, Gallego will join fellow Akron men's soccer alumns, Darlington Nagbe, Michael Nanchoff, Steve Zakuani and Ben Zemanski in the Rose City.
Gallego is also the sixth Akron player to sign a Homegrown contract in the past 12 months. Chad Barson (Columbus Crew), Scott Caldwell (New England Revolution), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids), Wil Trapp (Crew) and DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders) each signed with their respective clubs last winter.
The Timbers acquired the Homegrown rights to Gallego from the New York Red Bulls as part of a trade in December of 2012. He was a member of the Red Bulls Academy from 2007-11.
Gallego, who started 20 matches last fall, was the leader of one of the top defensive units in the nation as the Zips held opponents to one or fewer goals in all but three games while posting nine shutouts. In particular, Gallego, who earned All-MAC honors for the third time of this career in 2013, keyed a dominant stretch that saw Akron allow just three goals in eight contests including clean sheets against No. 15 Wake Forest and No. 17 Michigan State.
He also played for the Timbers' top development team, the Timbers U-23s, in 2013 and contributed to a successful season that saw the club reach the Premier Development League's (PDL) Western Conference final. The Kennelon, N.J., native has also played for the U.S. U-20 and U-18 national teams.
With the Timbers U-23s, Gallego played in 10 matches during the 2013 PDL regular season, helping the team to a second-place finish in the Northwest Division and earning PDL Team of the Week honors in Week 6. He led a defense that recorded a division-best six shutouts and allowed a division-low 12 goals. The Timbers U-23s Player of the Year, Gallego helped the team to the postseason and to the second round of the 2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
As a U.S. youth international, Gallego was a member of the U-18 National Team pool for three years from 2009-11 and served as the team's captain. He led the U.S. U-18 National Team to a third-place finish in the 2011 Northern Ireland Milk Cup. He played for the U.S. U-20s during the Copa Chivas in 2010 and was a part of the team's player pool in 2012.