Paolo Cardozo acknowledges that it feels a little weird to be on the other side of Home Depot Center following Tuesday's trade to Chivas USA from the Galaxy, but he's embracing his newest challenge and says wants to do what he can to bring the Goats success.
“I want to do my best,” Cardozo said Wednesday, when he trained for the first time with his new Chivas teammates. “I think I'll have an opportunity to play a lot more games [than with the Galaxy]. And I have a lot of support from our coach [Robin Fraser] and from teammates, and I'm looking forward to incorporating myself as soon as possible with the team.”
The 22-year-old Uruguayan-born Argentine playmaker, who has little size (5 feet 5, 135 pounds) but otherworldly skill, was Chivas' prize for sending Brazilian defender David Junior Lopes to the Galaxy, which is desperately in need of backline help.
Cardozo, who counts among his friends Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel (with the Galaxy last season until a mid-August trade to the Goats to clear a Designated Player spot for Robbie Keane) and Ecuadoran midfielder Oswaldo Minda, had made two appearances for the Galaxy this year, with a start in a Major League Soccer loss three weeks ago against New England. He played in 27 first-team matches -- 18 of them MLS games, with eight starts -- in his first league season last year.
“The truth is everything happened kind of sudden,” Cardozo said, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter. “[The Galaxy] explained they needed a player like David, and Chivas was willing to make that change. I felt a little weird at the beginning.”
Part of that was how it happened. Player trades, always part of the American professional sports landscape, are virtually unheard of elsewhere.
“It's weird because it only happened here,” Cardozo said. “One moment you're a player with one team, and then the next moment you're with another team. I accept it. It's part of the game. I'm thinking positive. I'm not going to be depressed or sad or anything. I have an opportunity to play for Chivas, to play well and prove to everyone what I'm capable of doing.”
Cardozo, who is in MLS on loan from Argentine second-division club Quilmes, made some contributions to L.A.'s attack last season, primarily on the wing. He's a master dribbler, expert in tight spaces, but the depth of midfield talent on the Galaxy roster limited his playing time. He was a regular with the Galaxy's reserve team, playing in all nine MLS Reserve League matches and scoring two goals with an assist.
“When you play with figures like Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and David Beckham … and being champions was something that was beautiful,” Cardozo said about his time with the Galaxy. “It was a great year last year. Now I have to think about Chivas and get ready this week, to try to play [Saturday at Toronto FC].”
Playing against the Galaxy, he said, “is going to be a little weird, but what happened with the Galaxy is in the past. Now I'm focused on Chivas. This is my future.”