CARSON, Calif. — Last year was not kind to Ryan Smith. The speedy winger and former Arsenal product was forced to abruptly leave Sporting Kansas City in June, midway through the season, due to family reasons. He ended up missing the rest of the campaign.
Just months after his departure from Sporting KC Smith attempted to make a move to La Liga side Real Zaragoza, before SKC traded his rights to Chivas USA for a pair of Supplemental Draft picks. Questions about Smith’s status swirled, but after reporting for the first day of preseason camp with the Rojiblancos, the winger was eager to tell his side of the story.
“I had to leave last summer to look after my mum," Smith told reporters on Monday. "What a lot of people don’t know is that it was to be close to her because she suffers from lupus, which is a permanent illness. Nobody knew that apart from the coaching staff at KC. Then I went to Spain and we couldn’t work anything out over there for whatever reason. Then I spoke to the guys at Chivas and they wanted to take me and that was it. It was pretty much done as quickly as I found out.”
In order for a deal to get done, Smith’s first priority was ensuring that his family could join him in Southern California. After speaking to the Rojiblancos management, he got his wish.
“The good thing is that MLS offered me a new contract that is a little bit more money and enabled me to bring my family over here now,” said Smith. “I’m really looking forward to it. It was an indifferent time when I left because no one knew the situation, but now everyone will know.”
With his family currently preparing for their move from London to Los Angeles, Smith is now free to focus on becoming an integral part of the Chivas USA midfield for the upcoming season. In order to do so, Smith – who scored four goals and seven assists in 32 games with Sporting over the past two seasons – must earn a spot.
However, after the difficulties of the past year, he's ready for the challenge and believes that he may have finally found a home with Chivas.
“The guys are nice, I kind of feel like I’ve been here for a while,” said Smith with a smile. “They’ve welcomed me really well and I’m just looking forward to the new season and hopefully getting us into the playoffs.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org