Monterey Bay F.C. has signed 18-year-old midfielder Xavi Gnaulati, who made his USL Championship debut this past campaign for San Diego Loyal SC. | Photo courtesy Ben Nichols / San Diego Loyal SC
SEASIDE, Calif. – Monterey Bay F.C. announced on Wednesday that the club had signed midfielder Xavi Gnaulati to a one-year contract with an option for the 2025 USL Championship season. The transaction is pending league and federation approval.
Gnaulati joins Monterey Bay having begun his professional career with hometown club San Diego Loyal SC, where he became just the second player to move all the way through the San Diego development pathway to join the professional ranks this past July. The 18-year-old recorded his first two professional goals against Monterey Bay in a dramatic comeback victory at Cardinale Stadium in September, and will now continue his progression with Head Coach Frank Yallop’s squad.
“I am super excited to be signing with Monterey Bay,” said Gnaulati. “I’m looking forward to working with the players and coaches in this beautiful area. I have high goals for myself and I believe this is the place to help me achieve that. Scoring my first two professional goals in this stadium means a lot to me and my family. I hope to build off that and have even more amazing moments at Cardinale Stadium this season with the fans and my teammates.”
“I spoke to Landon [Donovan] about Xaxi initially, he gave me a good report on him. We really liked his ability for a young player,” said Yallop. “He proved it against us with those two goals in three minutes. And the great thing is that he’s 18 years old, he’s excited to be here and ready to start the next chapter of his career. A young player who can be inventive in the final third is always exciting and he brings just that. We want to get him acclimated to Monterey Bay and are really excited about his future. We look forward to seeing what he can add to our attacking core.”
Xavi Gnaulati’s two-goal outburst to bring San Diego Loyal SC back late to take victory against Monterey Bay F.C. – one of the most pivotal results for both clubs in the 2023 season – is what grabbed attention, but there’s plenty for Monterey Bay to work with after the 18-year-old earned his first minutes in the USL Championship this past season.
While Gnaulati has only logged 137 professional minutes in the league so far, coming into Monterey Bay’s squad should provide a strong platform for him to learn from veterans such as Alex Dixon, Sam Gleadle and Simon Dawkins. Hopefully for Monterey Bay fans, that will result in moments they can celebrate with their new arrival.