The New England Revolution signed Ecuadorian attacker Cristian Penilla on a one year loan from Mexican league side Pachuca on Tuesday.
Penilla is an attacking midfielder who has played in Mexico, Brazil, and his home country of Ecuador for the entirety of his eight-year career. He joins the Revolution on loan for the 2018 season, and his contract contains an option to buy for the 2019 season.
General manager Michael Burns told revolutionsoccer.net that he believes Penilla will instantly compete for starting minutes in the team.
“We believe Cristian is a player with the ability to immediately compete for a significant role in New England,” Burns said. “His wealth of experience at a highly competitive level makes us feel Cristian will be a great asset to the club’s attack as we begin the 2018 season.”
The 26-year-old signed with Pachuca in 2015, a team in Mexico’s top-flight Liga MX, where he scored four goals in 28 appearances. During his time at Pachuca, he was loaned out three times, first to his former club Barcelona SC in the Ecuadorian Serie A in 2016. He then spent the rest of 2016 with Monarcas Morelia in Mexico, before completing his most recent loan move to Chapecoense in 2017.
In his three years with Barcelona SC, he scored 19 goals in 79 games. Penilla has also represented his home country of Ecuador twice, even scoring a goal in an international friendly against El Salvador in 2014.
The Ecuadorian has always been a journeyman and has never had any standout seasons, excluding his 2016 season with Barcelona SC where he scored seven goals in 14 games. While it is unclear how he will adapt to the MLS, he does have valuable experience in some of the best leagues in the western hemisphere.
He is a versatile player, who can play in an attacking midfield or a center forward role, meaning head coach Brad Friedel has many options with Penilla in the team. With the loss of Kei Kamara in the attack, Penilla’s addition will strengthen the Revolution’s attack.
Penilla will officially join the club once he receives his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P-1 Visa.