The long-awaited arrival of former Argentine-youth international Marcos Charras ended on Sunday when he touched down at Dallas Fort-Worth airport at 10:30 a.m. following an 11-hour trip from Argentina that saw him go through customs in Houston. An FCD representative was there to wait for Charras and his agent and brought the pair to Pizza Hut Park, arriving in time to catch the last minutes of the FC Dallas Reserves game versus Real Salt Lake.
After passing his physical, the 22-year-old met FC Dallas Head Coach Colin Clarke and other members of the team while getting a tour of the facility.
During the off-season, Clarke traveled to Argentina to look at Charras, who was playing for Quilmes in the Argentine First Division at the time. In December of 2005, Clarke attended the Quilmes game versus Argentine-powerhouse River Plate, in which Charras was the starting left-back. Having been impressed with what he observed, Clarke and FCD management have been going through the proper channels to get Charras to join the team since January.
"We've been searching for a while for a left-sided player," said Clarke. "I saw Marcos back in December and it's been a long-time happening to get him here but we're glad to have him here now. He's going to give us options on the left side. He's equally as comfortable as a fullback or a as midfielder. So he has good versatility and he likes to get forward into the attack. At the moment we have Arturo out there on the left and he'll be competing for a starting spot with Arturo."
Charras had arrived at Quilmes in September of 2005 following a six-month stint with Velez Sarsfield, also from the top division in Argentina. As an 18-year old in 2002, he made the jump from the youth system of club Rosario Central in Argentina to CSKA Sofia of the Bulgarian First Division without having ever played a game in the top Division of Argentina. Charras made his professional debut with CSKA Sofia and went on to play in the UEFA Cup and European Champions League tournaments, while winning the Bulgarian league title in the 2002-2003 season. CSKA loaned Charras to Velez early in 2005, and then to Quilmes in September of the same year.
In January of 2003, Charras was selected to be part of Argentina's U-20 team that would compete in the XXI South American Championships which were held in Uruguay. After starting the first game at left back, Charras separated his shoulder which kept him out for the remainder of the tournament, which Argentina would go on to win. That team also featured current Argentine star players such as: Javier Mascherano (River Plate - ARG), Carlos Tevez (Corinthians - Brazil); and Fernando Cavenaghi (River Plate - ARG), and Pablo Zabaleta (Barcelona - SPA).
Charras will join FC Dallas on Monday morning for his first work-out with the team at 10:00 a.m. The club expects to finalize the remaining details to formally add him to the team in the coming days.
Q & A with Marcos Charras:
How did you learn that the team was interested in you?
"Through my representatives. They told me that the team had gone to Argentina; then later told me they saw me play against River and liked what they saw. I then learned of some of the inconveniences that we've gone through since but thankfully it looks like everything will work out good."
How do you feel physically?
"I feel good. I'm going to do some training on my own today and tomorrow together with the group, get to know them, and to start playing as soon as is possible."
How have you kept active since the process began to get you to Dallas?
"I've been training with the old club, not the first team but with the reserves. I've been training on the physical aspects and training normal. But I was also being cautious because I knew I was coming here to Dallas - trying not to commit any mistakes or get injured or anything that could impede this opportunity. So for a time I was mainly keeping up on my conditioning."
What's your familiarity with the club?
"I was able to keep up with the team through the internet since there isn't much news about soccer from the United States back in Argentina. I know they are a very good team and that last season they lost in the conference semifinals. I saw pictures of Pizza Hut Park online and now to see it in person, this place is perfect!"
What can the team expect from you?
"I'm going to try to contribute the same as the rest of the team - sacrifice, will, play, show a good game. Everyone wants to contribute the same and they've been doing it. To help the team is the most important thing."
Where do you feel the most comfortable playing?
"I like to play along the left flank. It doesn't matter to me if I'm playing in the back or in the middle, I like to attack regardless. I like to go forward, get to the end, send in crosses and if possible to score goals."
What was it like going to Bulgaria as a young player?
"It was tough. I was young, only 18 heading to Europe - to a soccer that was completely unknown to me, as was the language and everything for the most part. But after some time, I adapted and was fortunate to stay in touch with the Argentine national team and to keep my rhythm of Argentine soccer. I learned a lot being over there."
How was your time in Argentina over the past year?
"My experience was a little negative because in the first six months with Velez I couldn't play due to an injured elbow which kept me out for a month and half, almost two months. And when I returned the team had already won the Championship. And then with Quilmes, there were some misunderstandings. But I was fortunate, I was able to play against Racing, against River and now I hope to play here."