Friday, February 17, 2012
CHIVAS USA: McKenzie bolsters backline
By Scott French
CARSON -- Chivas USA completed its signing Rauwshan McKenzie on Friday, bulking its defense with a little-used center back who worked with Robin Fraser at Real Salt Lake.
McKenzie, who joined the Goats as a trialist at the start of preseason camp, has been among the most impressive performers in the club's first six preparation games. He has primarily teamed with Brazilian David Junior Lopes as a backup tandem to Heath Pearce and John Alexander Valencia.
McKenzie, 25, announced he'd signed via his Twitter account, and Chivas USA general manager Jose Domene confirmed it in a text message. The acquisition had been anticipated for more than two weeks; the Goats decided early in camp that they wanted the four-year Major League Soccer veteran.
“Rauwshan is a very solid defender,” Fraser, who coached McKenzie at RSL in 2010, said earlier during camp. “He's another person I've had some experience with. I've been around him a couple of years. He's strong, he's physical, he's a good passer. I think he's a player who can contest for some things here.”
McKenzie, 25, has played a heady game the past month, quickly fitting in and, in scrimmages and matches, providing a calm foundation important when playing next to the erratic Lopes. He could get the chance with Chivas that he hasn't had with Kansas City and RSL.
McKenzie has made only 11 Major League Soccer appearances in four MLS seasons. He was little more than an apprentice at K.C. and played sparingly -- just 11 competitive first-team matches the past two years -- at RSL behind Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers, the league's best center-back duo.
He has made four appearances, with one start, in preseason, missing the past two games as Fraser looked largely at non-contracted players Tuesday against Montreal and gave his first team extended minutes Thursday against the Galaxy.
WORTH NOTING: Chivas also has a new trialist in camp but are keeping his identity under wraps for the time being. ... The Goats' final Southern California preseason appearance is Wednesday night against Club Tijuana at the University of San Diego's Torero Stadium. Kickoff is 8 p.m., and tickets ($45, $35 and $25) are available online or by calling (619) 260-7550. ... Chivas concludes preparations at the Portland Timbers' Feb. 27-March 4 tournament also involving Swedish club AIK and the San Jose Earthquakes.