The LA Galaxy announced Wednesday they have signed defender Jalen Neal to an MLS contract, his first professional deal, after coming through the Galaxy Academy and playing for LA Galaxy II in 2020.
“Jalen is a talented defender who has shown his capability at the professional level last season with LA Galaxy II,” said LA Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese in a team statement. “We are excited that he will become another player on our first-team roster that has come through our developmental system. We look forward to Jalen continuing to learn and grow with our club.”
The 17-year-old was promoted to Los Dos in 2020, as he played regularly across the backline, including center back. In all, he made 13 appearances, helping Junior Gonzalez’s team reach the USL Championship playoffs, despite playing in arguably the toughest group in the league.
Neal was touted ahead of the Galaxy II season last year, but he was a bit of an unknown quantity coming in. The 2020 LA Galaxy II Humanitarian of the Year, he has also been called up to the U.S. U-16 National Team.
Neal has the height to be an MLS defender but probably needs to fill out a little bit and gain some more muscle. I imagine he’ll either be a reserve option for Greg Vanney on the first team, and/or he’ll get more playing time for Los Dos in 2021 to get more competitive minutes and develop his game while waiting for a break at MLS level.
He’s the second Galaxy player signed in as many days to come out of the Galaxy Academy, joining midfielder Adam Saldaña. It’s expected there’s at least one more signing coming down the pike in a similar vein, and we’ll keep you posted if that happens.
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