Los Angeles Soccer: Karo Okiomah
Colombian attacking midfielder Jose Manuel Najera and Brazilian winger Alan Souza were as impressive as hoped for in their first game action for Chivas in a 4-0 romp over Loyola Marymount University on a training field outside Home Depot Center's main stadium. Matt Dallman's showing at left back was just as good -- and far more unexpected.
Dallman, who is from Portland, Ore., started training with Chivas about two weeks ago -- not on trial, just to get fit. He has spent the past 4½ years in Europe, and he came to Carson after childhood friend Heath Pearce vouched for him.
“He talked to the coaches, asked if I could train with them for a little bit, and they've been great,” said Dallman, who played with Pearce in club ball, at the University of Portland, and in six months at Danish club Nordsjaelland before spending four years in Germany, with Arminia Bielefeld and Sportsfreunde Ziegen.
Dallman, 26, teamed with Souza on the left flank Friday to terrorize LMU's defense, setting up the second of two goals by rookie Casey Townsend with a fine run to the end line. He was solid defensively and looked very much at home in a 90-minute outing.
“We had the opportunity to look at him, and he's come in, and I think he did well today,” Fraser said.
His chances of making this roster? No telling.
“I haven't really heard much [about prospects],” Dallman said. “It was more of they said I could come in and train. I don't think it was a very official trial. It was just me kind of getting fit again. I just moved back from Europe about a month ago, so I'm tring to find a club here between [MLS and second-division North American Soccer League], just kind of decide what I want to do.
“I didn't come in with expectations. It was just great that they let me train.”
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.
CARSON -- Rauwshan McKenzie has patiently awaited his chance, and he's willing to wait a little longer, if need be.
The 25-year-old center back, Chivas USA's newest signing, mostly has sat and watched through his first four Major League Soccer seasons, and a fine showing in the Goats' preseason camp the past month or so probably isn't going to give him a regular starting gig this year either.
But it's going to give him the opportunity to play ample minutes, and with that, who knows?
“I think if you look at his career, if he may have landed in some other places, maybe it would have been a little different, because he does have a lot of ability ...,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said following training Monday at Home Depot Center. “I think he's definitely got the ability to be a good defender in MLS, and we're glad we have the opportunity to have him.”
McKenzie was a raw apprentice in his first two seasons, with Kansas City, where Jimmy Conrad was the leader in the back. He spent the past two years as cover for Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers, the best center-back tandem in MLS.
All told, he's played in just 11 league games, 20 first-team competitive matches and 21 reserve-league games. And he figures to back up Heath Pearce and Colombian newcomer John Alexander Valencia in central defense this year.
“Those guys are more experienced than I am,” said McKenzie, who put pen to paper Friday afternoon. “So I just try to learn from them every day in practice. I've obviously got to keep working hard and hope when the opportunity comes that I'm ready to go.”