Ex-USMNT captain Carlos Bocanegra joins Chivas USA, returns to MLS after near decade in Europe

Nearly a decade later, Carlos Bocanegra is back in MLS.

Chivas USA on Monday announced that the former US national team captain has put pen to paper on a deal that will bring him back to his native Southern California.

The 34-year-old defender was acquired when Chivas USA traded up to the first spot in the allocation order, sending a natural first-round pick in the 2015 SuperDraft and an international roster spot to Toronto FC in exchange.

Bocanegra will join his new teammates in Philadelphia, where the Rojiblancos will be training prior to their Friday game against the Union. The Upland, Calif., native will be eligible to play for Chivas USA once the summer transfer window opens on July 9, and pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.

The Goats could use the defensive help as they sit in last place in the Western Conference with 12 points from 16 matches, and giving up a league-high 31 goals.

“I’m very excited to join the club,” Bocanegra said in a statement.  “I know it’s going to be a big challenge because the club hasn’t been getting the greatest results on the field, but it’s something I’m looking forward to. The club has made me feel very welcomed and did a big effort to have me sign with the club so that I’ll be able to help try to turn the team around into being on the positive foot."

READ: Armchair Analyst on what Bocanegra signing means for Chivas USA

The potential move was hinted at by former club Rangers FC, who released Bocanegra from the last year of his contract with the Scottish club. The defender spent the 2012-13 European season on loan with Racing Santander.

The UCLA product and 2000 MLS Rookie of the Year makes his return to the league after 10 seasons in Europe, featuring for clubs in England, France, Scotland and Spain.

“This is great news for Chivas USA, as Carlos Bocanegra is a very experienced player with great image and with a strong desire to be in California after his time in European soccer,” Chivas USA sporting president Dennis te Kloese said in a statement. “I think his experience is going to be very valuable for us, as he knows MLS well from when he played for Chicago Fire, and has a long track record with the US men’s national team.

“His arrival also reaffirms and strengthens the identity we are seeking in Chivas USA: a team with outstanding elements who give a little extra to Chivas USA. The great combination of his experience and being from Los Angeles will contribute a lot to Chivas USA."

Bocanegra was included in the 35-man preliminary squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but he was ultimately left off the final 23-man roster to facilitate his move to his next club.

The acquisition of Bocanegra is the latest in what has been a busy few weeks for Chivas USA, who cut four players from the roster on Sunday, a few weeks after bringing on new head coach José Luis Real, who took over for José Luis "El Chelís" Sánchez Solá. Meanwhile, rumors have CD Guadalajara starlet Erick "El Cubo" Torres heading to LA.

On Saturday, Chivas USA halted a seven-game losing streak in league play, after a 1-1 home draw against New England in which they allowed the equalizer in the 88th minute.