Sports

Former Cal Poly star Justin Dhillon fulfills dream by signing with L.A. Galaxy II

Former Cal Poly men’s soccer star Justin Dhillon (left) and Hugo Arellano (right) celebrate with L.A. Galaxy fans after they were introduced following their signings.
Former Cal Poly men’s soccer star Justin Dhillon (left) and Hugo Arellano (right) celebrate with L.A. Galaxy fans after they were introduced following their signings. L.A. Galaxy

Justin Dhillon promised at the end of his senior campaign with the Cal Poly men’s soccer team that he’d be playing again sometime soon — for a paycheck.

He made good on that claim Friday when the L.A. Galaxy II, the developmental club for Major League Soccer’s Galaxy, announced Dhillon’s signing in front of supporters before the league’s 2017 SuperDraft.

“It just kind of made it all real,” Dhillon told The Tribune later Friday. “It was definitely a blessing, and it was such a cool support group there in L.A. It was such a cool moment, and I was happy to be a part of it.”

Dhillon was a member of the Galaxy Academy program prior to his four-year career at Cal Poly, and following his collegiate career reconnected with his old club to make it known he was interested in playing for them again.

The interest was mutual, and Dhillon will report to preseason camp under new Galaxy II head coach Mike Munoz later this month.

“It was just a cool way that it all happened,” Dhillon said.

It’s the continuation of a soccer career that blossomed during his four years in San Luis Obispo.

Dhillon, a Rancho Santa Margarita native, was named to the Big West Conference First Team following his senior season this past fall after scoring a team-leading seven goals and dishing out three assists in 17 games. He was also named to the Big West All-Freshman Team and was a second-team selection his sophomore season.

He has spent time with the U.S. U-18 men’s national team and featured for PSA Elite during the team’s U.S. Open Cup run that ended with a loss to the Galaxy in 2015.

Dhillon was introduced to his new supporters group Friday alongside Galaxy Homegrown signing Hugo Arellano.

“I was just thinking, ‘I’ve become a professional athlete,’” Dhillon said. “It just kind of made it all real. It was definitely a blessing.”

When Dhillon reports for duty, he’ll likely share the same training field as international stars such as Mexico international Giovani dos Santos, former English national team mainstay Ashley Cole and Belgium international Jelle Van Damme. Dhillon has trained with Galaxy first-team players previously as an Academy player, but now he’ll be doing it while positioning himself for a spot with the first team.

The Galaxy II, or Los Dos, competes in the USL and has qualified for the playoffs the past three seasons.

“For that to be considered my home, it’s probably going to take a little adjusting to think, ‘Wow, I’m going to be on the same field as these guys.’ It’s definitely a good opportunity for me.”

Making his home in Los Angeles won’t be too big of a transition for the Southern Californian native, and he already has a place to live lined up. Dhillon said he will be taking some time off school before securing his degree but has been working with Cal Poly on a plan to finish up his schooling in the near future.

For now, all his focus is on soccer.

“You can’t really put off living your dream,” he said.

Dan Itel, sports editor: 805-781-7989, @dan_itel.

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