Tuesday, February 21, 2012
CHIVAS USA: Meet the new trialists
By Scott French
CARSON -- Who are the newest trialists in Chivas USA camp? Do they have a chance to make the roster?
It's Colombian attacking midfielder Jose Manuel Najera and Brazilian wing/forward Alan da Silva Souza, and yes, of course.
Najera and Souza began training with the Goats last week, but the league's offices were closed for the Presidents Day weekend, so the club couldn't submit its “discovery” claims until Tuesday morning. The club asked their identities be kept secret until Tuesday.
Najera, 23, is an attacking midfielder who has played since 2006 with Real Cartagena. He has made one appearance, in 2009, for Colombia's national team.
Souza, 24, is a wide attacker who has spent most of the past six years in the Ukraine, with Metalurh Donestsk, Arsenal Kyiv and Stal Alchevsk, and most recently played in Cyprus with AEK Larnaca.
“I think that we have a couple players in who play with a bit of savvy and a bit of understanding and who are technically good as well, so they're interesting to watch,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said Monday. “[They are] guys who, as you watch them play, certainly, day by day, you can see the qualities that they have, and their understanding of how to move about the field, and both have good attacking minds, for sure.”
Fraser said the club had been following them for “maybe a month or so” and discovered them via “connections.”
“Connections, man, you've got to have connections,” he said. “You have a lot of contacts and you make a lot of contacts throughout the year, and you're in constant contact with these contacts. You always hear information about players who might be interesting or might be available or just things to keep on the radar.
“Certainly, as these two came up, despite having a group we're pretty happy with, you always want to look. You never want to say no unless there's a clear-cut reason to do so. So it's an opportunity to look at guys who are pretty good players.”
The third new trialist is rookie forward Karo Okiomah, who played at High Point University and was taken by Houston in the first round (12th pick) of last month's supplemental draft.
“He's kind of a big, strong forward who's flown under the radar a bit,” Fraser said. “He tested athletically really, really well at the combine. A player we had an eye on, but we only had one pick [in the SuperDraft]. When he became available ... again, we're looking, we're looking, trying to make the best decisions possible to become the best team possible.”
WORTH NOTING: Chivas plays Wednesday night at 8 against Club Tijuana at the University of San Diego, a ticketed friendly and the final preseason game for the Goats in Southern California. “We need to get up to competitive-game speed, and there's no better way than to get thrown into it,” Fraser said. “You play against a team that's a good team and doing well [3-1-3, two points off the lead] in the Mexican first division, which is a good league. You get to play a game in a stadium with lights and a crowd, and it's all part of the process to get ready for the beginning of the season.” The Goats are still figuring out their starting lineup, at least in midfield, and Fraser said it's time to “stretch minutes” for players. “There's a difference between 45 and 60, and 60 and 75, and 75 and 90,” he said, “and it's just getting you used to having to concentrate for that period of time.” ... Chivas heads to Portland, Ore., this weekend for the Timbers' four-team tournament, then returns to L.A. six days before the March 11 opener against Houston at Home Depot Center.
ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news ...
Houston winger Brad Davis, whose torn quad muscle forced him to miss the MLS Cup final, has been cleared to train fully and is expected to play in the Dynamo's Disney Pro Soccer Classic matches in Orlando, Fla. Houston also has signed goalkeeper Eric Marscheider, 19, to a developmental contract, The Houston Chronicle reports.
German goalkeeper Frank Rost, who earlier declined to return this season to the New York Red Bulls, announced his retirement.
FC Dallas has indefinitely suspended midfielder Bruno Guarda for violating team rules.
Montreal signed Cuban forward Eduardo Sebrango, 38, after he impressed in a preseason trial, The Province reports.