Fifteen-year-old Barca Residency Academy midfielder Leonardo “Leo” Orejarena has signed his first professional contract with North Texas SC, MLS Next Pro team of FC Dallas.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Orejarena in an interview with Barca Residency Academy. “I am very excited and very thankful to God because I know that without him, none of this would be possible. This is just the beginning of my career, and I’m very excited for this new chapter.”
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois native joined Barca Residency Academy from Chicago Fire Academy ahead of the 2022-23 season. Within his time at Barca Residency Academy, Orejarena earned his first U.S. Men’s Youth National Team call-up and was recently called up to the U-17 domestic training camp that took place last month at the Nike Headquarters in Portland, Oregon.
Last season, Orejarena scored 13 goals in 25 appearances for Barca Residency Academy’s U-17 MLS Next team and earned selection to play in the 2022 MLS Next Fest Best of Match. This season, the midfielder took his game to even greater heights, notching an impressive five goals in just seven appearances for Barca’s U-17s.
Orejarena’s impressive play on the field afforded him a two-week training stint at FC Barcelona’s La Masia last November. This opportunity immersed him in La Masia’s environment, enabling him to challenge himself against some of the top youth players in the world.
“Barca helped me in a very important moment in my life,” said Orejarena. “They had faith in me, which makes me have more faith in myself, and they let me be free and creative. This made me feel happy knowing that they believed in me at every moment.”