Major League Soccer's roster-compliance day came and went for Chivas USA without hardly any notice. The club has only 23 players under contract, and the most expensive man who will take the field this year -- striker Juan Pablo Angel -- isn't one of them, so getting beneath the $2.81 million salary cap and 30-player roster limit required no work whatsoever.
That means there's work to be done in the next 10 days, leading to the March 11 opener against Houston at Home Depot Center. There are 11 trialists, unsigned draft picks and academy players in camp -- that group doesn't include Angel, who has been adamant since preseason training began that his agreement will be signed -- and seven slots available, with midfielder Miguel Iraheta on the disabled list until, earliest, late in the season.
Nobody can play in a league game until they're signed, so getting Angel's signature is a priority, as are selecting a third goalkeeper (UCLA product Brian Rowe or Cal Poly's Patrick McLain), making decisions on trialists (with Colombian midfielder Jose Manuel Najera, Brazilian winger Alan Souza, and left back Matt Dallman the best bets), and perhaps wrapping up a Home Grown Player deal with Glendora's Marco Delgado.
And March 11 isn't a hard deadline in any way. Not even for Angel.
“He's here, he's been playing, he played today,” general manager Jose Domene told ESPN Los Angeles after the Chivas' 1-1 draw at Portland in its second game at a four-team preseason tournament. If we were far away [on his contract], he wouldn't be here.”
Angel and Chivas have said there's one sticking point to the new pact, but Angel, a Designated Player in his first five MLS seasons, has been adamant since camp opener Jan. 15 that his signing was more or less imminent.
What if it doesn't happen by March 11?
“He doesn't play that day,” Domene said.
And that could happen?
“It's a possibility.”
The roster-freeze deadline isn't until mid-September, and the Goats can make endless moves until then as long as they remain under the cap and roster limit, which is more difficult once contracts become guaranteed in June.
None of the other signings have to be done before the first game, but Chivas would like to have a full collection of players before the Dynamo visit. Sunday's tournament finale against the San Jose Earthquakes will be the last time to assess potential additions in game action before the league opener.
“I think we're narrowing down some thoughts and choices,” head coach Robin Fraser said.
Here's the roster Chivas USA is believed to have submitted to MLS:
Dan Kennedy (Yorba Linda/UC Santa Barbara)
Ante Jazic (Canada)
David Junior Lopes (Brazil)
John Alexander Valencia (Colombia)
Jorge Villafaña (Anaheim)
Miller Bolaños (Ecuador), on loan from LDU Quito (Ecuador)
Laurent Courtois (France)
Marvin Iraheta (DL, Pasadena/El Salvador)
Oswaldo Minda (Ecuador)
Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela)
Ryan Smith (England)
Peter Vagenas (Pasadena/UCLA)
Tristan Bowen (HGP/Van Nuys), on loan to Roeselare (Belgium)
Casey Townsend (R/draft)
IN CAMP BUT NOT ON THE ROSTER
F Juan Pablo Angel (Colombia)
D Matt Dallman (trial)
M Marco Delgado (Glendora), Academy player
M Eric Gonzalez (Corona), Academy player
D Scott Gordon (trial)
D Mario Ledesma (trial, Woodland Hills)
G Patrick McLain (R/trial)
M Jose Manuel Najera (trial, Colombia)
G Brian Rowe (R/draft, UCLA)
M Pablo Sandoval (trial, Mexico)
M Alan Souza (trial, Brazil)
F Ben Spencer, Academy player
DP -- Designated Player
HGP -- Home Grown Player
IR -- Injured Reserve
R -- Rookie
Note: Local hometowns/colleges and/or foreign designations in parentheses
ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news …
New York's English striker, Luke Rodgers, one of MLS's best newcomers last year, has a meeting next month in London as he attempts to renew his visa. He was initially denied in 2010 because of his arrest record in England, and Red Bulls GM Erik Soler told the New York Post that his roadblock was “a minor issue, 14 months old, 15 months old.”
New York defender Wilman Conde, who came off early in Wednesday's Desert Diamond Cup victory over the Galaxy with a strained thigh, will be out 2-3 weeks.
Former Galaxy defender Ugo Ihemelu is FC Dallas' new captain, taking over from midfielder Daniel Hernandez, who now is a player/assistant coach.
Colombian forward Jose Moreno, who tried to back out after signing with New England, confirmed he will join the Revolution this season.
Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Erik Kronberg will be out 4-6 weeks with a lower back injury.
The Sounders signed rookies Babayele Sodade and Andrew Duran.
MLS barred Houston Dynamo fans from taking banners, drums and flags to at least eight away games, punishment for three incidents, including the tossing of smoke bombs and other projectiles onto the field during the MLS Cup final last November at Home Depot Center.
D.C. United signed former Chicago goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra, 26, who played last season for the second-tier NASL's Charleston Battery.
Vancouver waived midfielder Lee Nguyen.
Portland signed goalkeeper Joe Bendik, 22, who has played since 2010 in Norway with Sogndal.
Philadelphia waived Tanzanian midfielder Nizar Khalfan, acquired from Vancouver in November's waiver draft.
Montreal waived English midfielder Ian Westlake, who joined the Impact midway through the 2011 NASL season and signed an MLS contract in December.
Maltese forward Etienne Barbara, who signed Tuesday with Vancouver, told B.C. tabloid The Province that Martin Rennie was set to become Montreal's head coach and that he was going to follow the Englishman to Quebec from the second-tier Carolina RailHawks. Instead, Vancouver swooped in last August to hire Rennie as its coach, and former Chivas USA captain Jesse Marsch was hired as the Impact's first MLS head coach two days later.
Palos Verdes' oft-injured John Thorrington will “be out a few weeks” after suffering a quad injury, Rennie told The Province.
Marsch says MLS No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wenger, expected to play on the backline or as a defensive midfielder for Montreal, will be used primarily as a forward.
A new FieldTurf, which should provide truer bounces and a more appropriate pace, has been installed at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
D.C. United won its third successive Carolina Challenge Cup preseason tournament, beating the NASL's Charleston Battery, 3-1, on Wednesday night.