SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Junior Sam Garza has signed a professional contract with Generation adidas, Major League Soccer's youth development program, and will forgo playing his senior season at UC Santa Barbara, it was announced early last week.
The forward was the first to sign a GA contract this year and has been joined so far by Darren Mattocks (Akron), Andrew Wenger (Duke) and Chandler Hoffman (UCLA). He will join teammates Luis Silva and James Kiffe at the 2012 MLS Player Combine in Ft. Lauderdale, Jan. 6-10.
The Generation adidas program is designed to identify elite high school seniors and NCAA underclassmen in order to maximize their talents with specific training and intensified instruction. Many Generation adidas players have gone on to become prominent members of Major League Soccer and several alums are currently competing with various U.S. national teams.
Underclassmen are not eligible for the MLS Draft unless they are part of the Generation adidas class. The 2012 MLS Draft takes place in Kansas City on Jan. 12.
Three former Gauchos have signed Generation adidas contracts: Michael Tetteh (2011), Eric Avila (2008) and Ciaran O'Brien (2008).
Garza has been an integral piece of the Gaucho offense over the past two seasons. After transferring from Denver, he led the team in 2010 with nine goals and 24 points. He was named the Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year, earned First Team All-Big West honors, All-Far West Region First Team distinction and was named to Top Drawer Soccer's Third Team.
This past year, Garza tallied eight goals and four assists. He led the team with 80 shots. The forward was awarded with All-Far West Region Second Team and All-Big West First Team honors.