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From Madrid to LA: Ignacio Maganto thankful for MLS opportunity

The midfielder left Spain for little Iona College and is now living his soccer dream.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Four years after he made his move to the United States, the LA Galaxy's Ignacio Maganto stands out as one of the more exciting young playmakers in Major League Soccer.

In that regard, Maganto's case is a lot different from most Spanish soccer players. It was either school or commit himself entirely to the game of soccer.

When offered the chance to move to the state New York to finish his studies at Iona College, he did not hesitate for a second. The U.S. college system was giving Maganto an opportunity to showcase his talent on the field, and at the same time, he was given a chance at completing his studies.

Maganto was more interested in having the opportunity to obtain something to fallback on, but in the process he had found an avenue in which he could continue his pursuit of playing professionally.

"It was an incredible opportunity," he said. "In Spain, you come from a high level of play in soccer so [in coming to the U.S.] you have more options than other kids [that stay in Spain]."

While at Iona College, Maganto earned numerous honors before being drafted by the LA Galaxy in the first round of the 2015 MLS SuperDraft. In four years, he had completed the process from going to moving away from home to getting his studies completed and becoming a professional soccer player.

For Maganto, that was the goal all along. He hasn't looked back since.

"I came here thinking that after four years I wanted to play in MLS. I am here now, and I want to keep playing."

Maganto's transition into his rookie MLS season has been a smooth one. He made his debut on May 2 in a 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids. He has featured regularly ever since and has received plenty of praise from coach Bruce Arena and other teammates.

"It is always gratifying to hear that. It makes you feel more important," the young Spaniard said. "I feel every day I am picking up more and more rhythm and I hope I can continue earning minutes to help my teammates." On Friday, it was Maganto's brilliant reception that led to Robbie Keane's cross for Alan Gordon's 90th minute winner."

Now after more than two months in the league, Maganto is convinced he made the right decision. He hopes other Spanish soccer players follow his footsteps by looking at obtaining a college education and having a chance to play in MLS as a more attractive option.

"School was always something important to me. Like I've said a lot of times, you never know what can happen in soccer, " Maganto said. "It was important to have something in case things don't go your way.

"Thankfully, I've had the fortune that everything went well at Iona. Now I have the chance to play professionally and have my college education too."