Do not feel bad if you are one of the many that are unfamiliar with the California native who was called up to the US Men’s National Team squad for last Friday’s 1-1 draw against Ecuador, and is included in Tuesday’s squad for the match against Honduras. Three separate websites have Ibarra listed at three different positions. Wikipedia has Ibarra listed as an attacking midfielder, ESPN labeled the player as a defender, and the USMNT website has him as a forward (I would obviously trust the actual USMNT website for Ibarra’s correct position).
Even though he received his first call up to the USMNT during Landon Donovan’s final match in red, white, and blue last Friday, Ibarra does not play for an MLS club. The 24-year-old makes his living for Minnesota United FC, in the second-tier North American Soccer League.
Ibarra spent his freshman and sophomore years in college at Taft College in California, where he was named in the Central Valley Conference First Team both years, and was the MVP of the conference following his sophomore season. Ibarra would later transfer to the University of California at Irvine for his Junior and senior seasons. The accolades would not stop there for Ibarra, as he was named into the All-Big West Conference Team of the Year and Co-Offensive Player of the Conference during his senior season at Irvine.
Despite Ibarra’s success in college, he was not one of the 38 players selected during the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. Ibarra was, however, picked in the second round of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft five days later. Although he was selected by the Portland Timbers during that draft, Ibarra failed to come to terms on a contract with the Timbers and signed with Minnesota (then called the Minnesota Stars) in March of 2012.
The underrated Ibarra possesses pace, skill, and decent finishing abilities (as seen here). Ibarra currently has eight goals (tied for fifth most in the league) and five assists (tied for second most in the league) during league play this season. Ibarra has scored a total of 14 goals and recorded 13 assists during his three seasons in Minnesota.
With the aforementioned Donovan retiring from the national team and other stars in the team (DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and Tim Howard) over the age of 30, the USMNT needs its young players to step up and soon take the reins to help continue America’s recent climb in the world of soccer. Whether Ibarra will be a part of the passing of the torch remains to be seen.