CARSON, Calif. – Upon arriving in MLS, Víctor Estupiñán said he was going to score 30 goals in his first year for Chivas USA. However, he has found the going far tougher than he expected.
The Ecuadorian forward has struggled to earn minutes, having played in only four matches — three of them coming on as a late sub after the 80th minute. Estupiñán's only start came on March 26 in a loss to the Colorado Rapids, so it would be understandable if the young forward was experiencing some frustration.
That frustration seemingly manifested itself in a posting on his Facebook page on May 12.
"It would be great news to return to my Liga de Quito," he wrote. "I would really like to go back. I’m just waiting to hear about negotiations.”
The post was later removed and replaced by an apologetic entry in which he pledged his loyalty to the team that picked him in the first round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Following training on Wednesday, Estupiñán said that the post was simply a joke to friends back in Ecuador.
“I’m happy here," he said. "It was a joke saying that I wanted to go back to Liga de Quito because they lost this past weekend. Then I realized that I made a mistake and I deleted it. Even though I don’t play, I’m working to get an opportunity here."
Estupiñán has struggled to find playing time because of good play by fellow strikers Justin Braun and Marcos Mondaini, who have each partnered alongside Alejandro Moreno for the last month. Estupiñán will also face competition from new signing Chris Cortez, who was a late sub in Chivas USA’s victory over the New York Red Bulls last Sunday.
Head coach Robin Fraser admitted at training on Wednesday that he was not aware of any displeasure on Estupiñán’s part nor was he willing to say if the 23-year-old wanted to leave Chivas USA.
“I don’t speculate to what he’s saying or what he’s thinking,” Fraser told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t have any issues with him. This is the first time that I’m hearing about this.”
Life in the United States is about to get a bit easier for the Ecuadorian forward, however, as he will soon be joined in the US by his wife María, whom Estupiñán married on a trip back to Ecuador in February.
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano