CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – John Lozano and Fernando Cárdenas are so new to the United States, they reported straight to the remote oasis of green pitches in south-central Arizona from their native Colombia.
No stopover in their new home in New England, even though the club returns to the Northeast on Tuesday. No chance to find a temporary home or shop for warm clothes or meet office staff. None of that.
The Colombian duo went straight to the Revolution’s preseason training camp way out west and, just a few days after arriving, found themselves in the Revs’ first training match of the preseason last Saturday.
Lozano started at center back, while Cárdenas (above) came on in the second of three periods to play up top. They learned quickly that the MLS game is fast and furious, an adjustment the two admitted they’ll have to make from the Colombian style.
“It’s ‘crash’ soccer,” Cardenas told MLSsoccer.com.
“It’s a change for sure,” Lozano added. “I’m happy to be here as part of a new team and I’ve seen some great things, but it’s like a big difference that we don’t see in Colombia.”
And that certainly includes the conditioning, the coaching and the drills. But it’s all motivation for Lozano, who could be auditioning already for a starting job for the regular season.
“Over here, it’s fast, it’s about holding onto the ball, more running,” said Lozano (right). “We’ll learn the style as fast as we can.”
Coach Jay Heaps liked what he saw from Lozano last Saturday in game action. He is one of the latest in a line of standout Colombian center backs to join MLS, and he’s well aware of the tradition of excellence his countrymen have brought to the position.
“So smart, reads the game and his position dictates a lot of what guys do around him," Heaps said. "He doesn’t have to know English to kind of position people around him."
Cárdenas said he’s proud of the way those players and others, such as Seattle striker Fredy Montero and Portland’s Diego Chara and Jorge Perlaza, have performed and represented Colombia.
“They’ve shined here in the US, and we hope we can follow the same path,” Cárdenas said.
At least the pair of former América de Cali teammates have each other to lean on as they adjust to North America.
“It’s a blessing to be here,” Cárdenas said, “and step by step, it will get easier for us in this country.”