Friday, January 21, 2011
CHIVAS USA: Comings and goings
By Scott French
Rodolfo Espinoza, Maykel Galindo and Dario Delgado are not returning to Chivas USA, coach Robin Fraser said Friday, but the club is acquiring one of Mexico's most promising young goalkeepers on loan from Club Deportivo Guadalajara.
Sergio Arias, Luis Michel's backup for Guadalajara, is joining Chivas USA for the 2011 season. Fraser said “as far as I know,” the loan has been finalized, but Arias said he wants “this to be a deal very soon.”
Either way, Arias could challenge starter Zach Thornton, 37, and No. 2 Dan Kennedy, 28, for playing time, and upper management -- Guadalajara owner (and Chivas USA co-owner) Jorge Vergara -- might exert some pressure to get him on the field.
Arias, who will be 23 next month, hasn't made his first-team league debut for Guadalajara, but he has extensive youth national team experience -- he starred on the Mexican side that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2005 -- and made 36 appearances on loan to second-tier Dorados de Sinaloa in 2007-08.
“We're getting an opportunity to get a player whose ceiling is very high and a lot of potential and he's been good places as a youth player,” Fraser said. “We're excited about seeing how he develops.”
Said Arias: “I'm very happy, very motivated to be here. … I've been waiting for an opportunity like this one for awhile.”
SO LONG: The option on Espinoza, a Mexican winger who made a big impact when he joined the club last winter, has been declined, and Chivas also has jettisoned Cuban forward Galindo and Costa Rican defender Delgado.
Fraser on Espinoza: “To be honest, there are some things that took place before I got here, so I don't know what the reasons were, but we're moving on and moving forward.
Fraser on Galindo and Delgado: “Some of that is positional and financial implications of both. I mean, you take over a team, and some of that was in the works before I even got here, in terms of guys coming back and not coming back. Certainly we feel that while they gave very, very good and valuable contributions while they were here, we feel the time has arrived to move on and try to go in a different direction.”
TRIALISTS: Players on trial with the Goats include veteran Mexican defender Joaquin Beltran, 33, who spent a decade with Pumas UNAM and has since played for Necaxa, Cruz Azul and, since 2009, Gallos Blancos de Queretaro.
Also on trial, but perhaps with a leg up on others looking to make the roster, is former Chivas USA winger Francisco Mendoza. He was with the club from 2005 through the 2008 season, then left to join Guadalajara but played sparingly for the big club and in loan deals to Jaguares de Chiapas and Club Tijuana and after joining Indios de Ciudad Juarez last summer.
“I thought in his last couple of years he was a very effective player for this team and was actually surprised when he was gone,” Fraser said. “The opportunity to get him back arose. And I think he's going to be a good addition to us.”
Riverside's Norberto Ochoa (Riverside Poly HS), 20, a midfielder who starred for Alta Loma's Arsenal FC and went on trial, according to Chivas' media department, with Belgium's Club Brugge, and former Estudiantes Tecos midfielder Dmitri Gonzalez, 21, also are guest players.
And Kevin Guppy, an MLS pool goalkeeper who starred at Cal State Northridge, is battling for a roster spot.
Including trialists, there are 34 players on Chivas roster -- all but forward Alan Gordon, who was ill, were on hand for Friday's first training session -- and the club must get down to 30 before the Major League Soccer season begins in mid-March.
FRASER'S STAFF: Fraser retained assistant coach Nick Theslof and has hired Jim Liston, president and founder of Catz Sports Performance Center in Pasadena, as strength and conditioning coach. Liston was the Galaxy's strength and conditioning coach from 1998 to 2003, overlapping with Fraser's and assistant coach Greg Vanney's tenures as L.A. defenders.
NEXT PHASE: Chivas trains again Saturday morning at Home Depot Center, then heads for a 10-day team-building/fitness stay in San Luis Obispo on Sunday.