Smith, 22, joins LA Galaxy as a homegrown player, rising through the developmental ranks at the Galaxy Academy and later the club’s USL side LA Galaxy II. He’s of the MLS club’s eight homegrown players.
“Nathan is a player that has shown promise during his time with LA Galaxy II,” LA Galaxy general manager Peter Vagenas said in a statement. “His signing with our first team is a testament to his continued growth on the field. We think he can continue to develop to contribute to our team at the MLS level.”
Smith, who prepped at Buchanan High School, played one season at the USL level, appearing in 24 matches under then-head coach Curt Onalfo, who is now head coach for LA Galaxy.
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Smith signed a professional contract in 2016 with LA Galaxy II, choosing to pass on his senior season at UCLA, where he was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention in his sophomore and junior years.
As a youth, Smith made 23 appearances with U.S. Soccer’s U-17 National Team, competing at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the 2011 U-17 CONCACAF Championship. It was at the CONCACAF tournament where he scored the winning goal in the final against Canada to lead the Americans to the title.
Smith, who grew up playing club soccer with California Odyssey, spent parts of four seasons (2011-15) playing with the Fresno Fuego in the Premier Development League and helped the club win two division titles (2011, 2013).
The 2017 MLS season kicks off this weekend. The LA Galaxy host FC Dallas at the StubHub Center in Carson at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Williams in the limelight – Fresno native and U.S. soccer star Lynn Williams is enjoying her time in the limelight. On Wednesday, she scored her second career goal in the U.S. team’s 1-0 win over Germany to open the SheBelieves Cup.
Earlier this week, the former Bullard High and Pepperdine standout was invited by MLS to participate in a Black History Month roundtable discussion about race and the black experience in soccer. She was joined by Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC and USMNT forward; reporter Greg Howard, a David Carr fellow at the New York Times; Irv Smalls, founder of FC Harlem, and moderator Kevin Brown.
The North Carolina Courage forward shared her experiences about growing up in Fresno and being the only half-white, half-black girl on the team.
You can watch the full 40-minute video online at mlssoccer.com.
Fuego plays Saturday – The Fresno Fuego hosts new USL club Reno 1868 FC in a preseason friendly on Saturday night at Chukchansi Park. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The Fuego, coming off a 10-3-1 season that saw it win the Central Pacific Division crown, opens the PDL season May 6 against the division-rival Burlingame Dragons FC at home.
In addition to the PDL season, the Fuego will compete in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, the tournament announced Thursday. The Fuego are one of 21 PDL teams that play in the first round. The tournament pairings will be announced April 12.
It is the fifth U.S. Open Cup appearance for Fresno, which last played in the tournament in 2014. The team that advances furthest from the Open Division, which the PDL is a part of, will earn a $15,000 cash prize.