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Where Are They Now: Kevin Venegas

After a decorated stint with the Loons in NASL, Kevin Venegas was unable to recreate the magic in MLS. What’s the stache up to now?

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Real Salt Lake
Kevin Venegas (accompanied by his hirsute mustache) walks out before a 2017 MNUFC match against Real Salt Lake.
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

There was plenty of reason for Minnesota United FC to make Kevin Venegas one of its first two signings for the MLS roster. His performances over five seasons in NASL gave fans plenty of expectations that the California-born fullback would play a role in an attack-minded system under Adrian Heath.

What did he do?

After failing to make the team with Chivas USA following the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft, Venegas inked a deal with the NSC Minnesota Stars. It took three games for him to leave an indelible mark on the league:

Over the subsequent five NASL seasons, Venegas became one of the club’s most consistent performers, coming in second in NASL-era appearances behind Justin Davis. In 109 appearances, Venegas slotted in seven goals with 15 assists. His standout 2015 season gave him a spot on the NASL Best XI alongside teammates Ibson, Justin Davis, and Christian Ramirez. Unfortunately for Venegas, his strong start to 2016 was hampered by a knee injury suffered in a friendly against AFC Bournemouth that was otherwise jam-packed with goals.

While he recovered in time to make the move up to MLS, it was hard to see the bite in attack that Viva built his reputation on. He debuted in the 5-2 loss against New England amid a set of international callups and suspensions that left the Loons to have just a six-man bench, then spent a two month stretch out of the lineup entirely. He made a brief return in a mid-summer run of five starts following the first injury to Marc Burch, but then only made one bench appearance in the final fifteen games after suffering a thigh injury in July.

How did he leave?

Venegas had his MLS option declined after the 2017 season and wasn’t selected in the Waiver Draft, making him a free agent.

Where is he now?

In advance of their move to USL, Viva signed with Indy Eleven. After a spell on the bench to start the year as he rounded back into fitness, he’s become their primary right back over the last few months, scoring once and getting his first assist of the year on a cross to former Loons teammate Ben Speas on August 15. Indy currently sit one point above the playoff line in the East, but have three games in hand over the ninth-place Bethlehem Steel.