GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Despite willingness on both sides to conclude a deal, 21-year-old forward Jamel Johnson will not sign for Pachuca, MLSsoccer.com has learned.
The former US youth international impressed coaches at the Mexican club, say Pachuca officials, but is too old for the Tuzos’ U-20 team and the five foreign slots in the first-team squad have already been taken.
“It had nothing to do with his quality,” director of scouting and performance Marco Garcés told MLSsoccer.com. “He always behaved very professionally with excellent conduct and is a good player on the pitch. The problem really was the regulations that we have [here in Mexico]."
Negotiations have been rampant this year in Mexico about ditching the Under-20 league for an Under-22 league, in which case the Miami-area native Johnson would very likely have been offered a contract with Pachuca.
“The foreign players that are 21 are especially difficult to accommodate,” added Garcés, the man widely reported as tipping off Manchester United about Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. “Sometimes they are too young to take one of the five foreign places and it is difficult that they replace one of the renowned foreign players, some of whom have World Cup experience.”
Garcés said he hopes Johnson had a good experience with Pachuca and that he has good things to say about the club. He added that Pachuca will continue to keep an eye on American players as the US is “a very interesting market.”
Pachuca currently have US international José Francisco Torres and U-20 youth-team member Kevin Huezo on their books.
Johnson — who has previously trained with Roeselare in Belgium as well as Hannover and Hansa Rostock in Germany — spent almost a month with Pachuca and was involved in first-team training sessions. After spending the previous six months at Danish second-division club FC Fyn, he remains a free agent.
Tom Marshall can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter: @mexicoworldcup