CHIVAS: Correa's plan is to score goals
CARSON -- Chivas USA hopes Jose Erik Correa possesses what it needs, and so does he.
“I want to score a lot of goals,” the young Colombian forward said through an interpreter after Tuesday's training session at Home Depot Center, his second with the Goats since arriving on an end-of-the-window transfer two weeks ago. “That's one of the characteristics of a forward, and [I want to] do things the best way I can so the coaches and staff are happy with me and the team continues to grow in the league.”
Chivas needs those goals to grow -- it's scored a league-worst four in eight games while otherwise playing rather decent soccer -- and Correa, a burgeoning Colombian national teamer who was tearing up his country's top league, provides an intriguing option up front, hopefully sooner than later.
He's only 19, or 21 -- his official papers say he's a teen, word within the club is he's not -- and needs to adjust to his first experience abroad.
“He's certainly an interesting player,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said. “He's got a good build and a good workrate and a good attitude so far. He's a hard-worker, he's got good pace, he can hold the ball up well. He's a good athlete.”
Correa, who scored six goals in his final seven games with Boyaca Chico and last month was called into Colombian national team coach Jose Pekerman's domestic-player camp, the first step toward World Cups and Copa Americas, has characteristics of a target striker but the speed and skill to play as a second forward, too. He could feature as early as Friday night's game against the Chicago Fire at Home Depot Center, Fraser said, depending on “how quickly he adapts to the team and his teammates ... and how he performs in practice.”
Correa says he “thanks God” for the opportunity to come to Major League Soccer, that it's a “very important step for me” and “one of the best things to happen in my life and in soccer.”
“This is a great place to be able to take the first step toward trying to get to Europe or to stay here and make a name for yourself in MLS ...,” he said. “I believe I have grown a lot [in the past year]. If they wouldn't have seen that evolution in me, I wouldn't be here. That's one of the things I admire about myself, that every day I want to be a better player.”
He's learned that “you've got to do things right, because you never know when the coach of the national team is watching. ... I never knew a club from the U.S. or the national team as going to watch me. When you least expect it, you're going to get called up, and that's very important for your career.”
Correa arrived in Los Angeles on Friday, took in the Galaxy's game against FC Dallas on Saturday night at HDC, and met up with FC Dallas' Jair Benitez and David Ferreira, who are among 33 Colombians on MLS books this season. Two more: Chivas forward Juan Pablo Angel and defender John Alexander Valencia.
Angel, who is revered in Colombia, has already made an impression.
“He's a great person, a great teammate, and he's very humble,” Correa said. “He tells me to be patient and little by little I'll be able to pick up the pace of the soccer here.”
It's been a whirlwind month for the country boy from Acandi-Choco in Colombia's rural north, who left home at 10 to chase his soccer dreams, and he says he is “trying to take it calmly, so I don't lose my head. There's a lot of fame, and you try to be patient and humble.”
HEALTHIER GOATS: Alejandro Moreno (concussion) and Peter Vagenas (fractured ribs) came off the injured list Tuesday, and Ben Zemanski (sprained MCL) is close behind, a week or so away at most. With Angel (concussion) heading into his third weekend back, Blair Gavin (hamstring strain) hitting top form and Michael Lahoud (hamstring strain) ready to go as of last weekend, Chivas is the healthiest its been all season.
Vagenas, whose injury was an especially painful one, trained fully for the first time Tuesday while wearing a kind of flak jacket under his shirt.
“How heavy is this?” he asked, handing over the rather weighty garment. “That's too much, isn't it? I'm 150 pounds, 170 with this. I put this on and I feel like [the tough, solidly built forward/midfielder] Alejandro Moreno. I'm pushing guys over, I'm fouling everybody, I'm holding guys off.
“Four weeks yesterday. They say around four to six weeks these things heal. Last week I started to do some things, it wasn't quite there. Today I took a few shots, which are good -- you need to get hit a few times. So, hopefully, it's past me.”
WORTH NOTING: Chicago head coach Frank Klopas and defender Jalil Anibaba are suspended for Friday's game after receiving expulsions following a postgame brawl Saturday night, when the Fire lost, 2-1, to visiting Seattle. Anibaba was red-carded for his actions in the fight and Klopas was dismissed for abusive language. Coaches, officially, do not receive red cards, but the effect is the same. ... Correa will wear No. 27. ... Tony Cascio's 50th-minute goal to start Colorado on its 4-0 win Saturday over Chivas is a finalist for MLS Goal of the Week.