Chivas USA has finally gone mad.
Former Atlas striker Juan Pablo Garcia officially joined Chivas USA on Saturday as the club's first major in-season acquisition and was presented before their match against the Chicago Fire.
"I am very happy to be with Chivas USA because they value my qualities as a player and because they believe that I will contribute to this team in a league that has grown a lot in the last years," said Garcia, whose nickname of "El Loquito" translates to "Little Crazy".
Indeed, Garcia is seen as a player who could help the fledgling club. Chivas USA lost 1-0 to Chicago on Saturday, their 14th loss in 18 games, and with just one win and three draws, they have the worst record in the league. The attack has been just as miserable, with the Red-and-White having scored just 15 goals, the third-lowest total in the league.
Garcia, 23, scored 25 goals for Atlas since he became a fixture in the starting lineup in the Clausura 2003 season. He bagged a career-high eight goals in 19 matches during the Clausura 2004 campaign.
The end of his relationship was surrounded by a bit of controversy. Atlas reportedly had wanted to transfer Garcia to Club America, who in turn had intentions of transferring him to San Luis or Tecos, according to published reports. But Garcia kept firm to a verbal commitment Garcia gave to Chivas USA President and Co-Owner Antonio Cue. Garcia's contract ran out June 30 and he was free to sign with the Red-and-White despite Atlas' wishes.
"I am not acting in bad faith," Garcia said. "In my last club they think I am breaking a pact that exists among the owners because no player had done what I did, deciding my own destiny. I hope that other players in Mexico can open their eyes and realize that they control their future. I hope that I will do (well) in MLS and then I will go to Europe."
Chivas USA head coach Hans Westerhof said Garcia will make a splash in the United States.
"He has all the qualities needed to succeed in MLS: speed, intelligence, grit, technical ability and -- most importantly -- a knack for scoring goals," Westerhof said.
Because of his call-up to the Mexican national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Garcia will not play for Chivas USA until the continental championship is complete. The earliest Garcia could play for Chivas USA would be July 16 against the Galaxy, and that would only be if Mexico does not get out of the first round. If Mexico reaches the final, Garcia would not play for Chivas USA until August.
Still, his arrival to the club brings what has been lacking all season: a consistent goal scorer. Among the club's forwards, Thiago Martins has three goals, Isaac Romo two and Matt Taylor has one goal. Hector Cuadros, who has floated between midfielder and striker, also has three goals.
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.