CARSON, Calif. — Since the start of the season, Chivas USA have maintained the importance of the Reserve League to the grand schemes of head coach Robin Fraser. The Rojiblancos reserve team has already borne fruit once this season with the signing of forward Chris Cortez, a former Chivas USA youth product, and it looks like another Chivas USA academy player is on the cusp of joining the full squad.
Chivas USA U-18s left back and captain Ian Hines-Ike has been balancing his time between action with the young Goats and the Chivas USA reserve squad.
A native of Littleton, Colo., the midfielder has looked composed during his stints with the reserves, drawing major accolades from Fraser for his performance against much more polished players.
"It's a big jump for him; the first time that we saw him was in a reserve game earlier in the year and he played well in Vancouver,” head coach Robin Fraser told MLSsoccer.com. “As a result, we've wanted to keep an eye on him. It's been a bit difficult for him, going from the first team and the U-18s. It's a good environment to put him into because we want to expose him to our demands and it's a learning curve for him."
Hines-Ike is the leader of the U-18’s playing alongside another Chivas USA academy signing, Bryan de la Fuente, as well as his younger brother Brendan, who starts at right back. In this year’s Development Academy Season, Hines-Ike was able to help lift the Chivas USA U-18s into the playoffs in Dallas despite training with the first team during the week and spending weekends with the U-18 squad.
During his tenure with the reserve squad, Hines-Ike has mostly been playing in his natural outside back position. Playing alongside of veterans like Mariano Trujillo and Francisco Mendoza, the mature youngster has appeared ready for the grind of MLS competition.
"I'm training every day with the first team so hopefully that comes through with a contract in the next month or so,” Hines-Ike told MLSsoccer.com. “I hope that comes through, but if not, I've been talking with a lot of colleges so I have a future with that.
"I like to dream about it and I don't feel like I’m too far from these guys,” Hines-Ike added. “I feel challenged, but I feel like I can help out this team so I really hope I can get signed."
If a contract offer does not come for the Chivas USA U-18s captain, Hines-Ike told MLSsoccer.com that he has spoken to a few colleges including the University of California and Rutgers in New Jersey. However, the young outside back is focusing on one thing: development.
"Coming from the academy, it's obviously an adjustment because the size and speed of the game are obviously a lot different,” Hines-Ike said. “I really enjoy it, when I get to a point in the academy game where the competition is just a decent level, but a place where I can excel; I can come here and really be challenged.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano