CARSON, Calif. – It’s been a wild week for Chivas USA, but nothing topped a dramatic day of trades on Thursday that the Rojiblancos believe will help them contend for a playoff berth and, ultimately, an MLS Cup.
The Rojiblancos completed a deal that sent defender Heath Pearce to the New York Red Bulls for forward Juan Agudelo, and also completed the long-speculated deal that brought center back Danny Califf to the Home Depot Center in exchange for midfielder Mike Lahoud.
Califf’s move ends a bizarre rumor storm that had engulfed the club for several days, but Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser admitted that it was necessary to deal with the strange situation as the club looked to make a pair of deals all at once.
“There were a lot of things swirling, but certainly it made sense that if we lose a center back then we need to bring in a center back,” Fraser said. “Then the timing of the moves just worked out. That was certainly a consideration for us, to make sure that we don’t cut off our nose to spite our face. We wanted to make sure that we were able to cover ourselves and make improvements all at once.”
And improve they did.
By bringing in Agudelo, the club added the Colombia-born US international to an attacking surplus that includes countrymen Juan Pablo Ángel and José Erik Correa. During his conversation with reporters on Thursday, Fraser stated that a move bringing Agudelo to Chivas had been “bantered about for a while.”
Agudelo joins the club in hopes of receiving more playing time after missing considerable time this season due to a meniscus tear in his left knee. While the promising young forward joins the club with a great deal of fanfare, the Chivas boss admitted that he was not being “brought in here to save the day.”
“We’ve seen snippets from [Agudelo] and we can see that he’s got a lot of talent, I think at the end of the day, we still have some young players who certainly the best lies ahead of them,” Fraser said. “I don’t want it to seem that the weight of the world is on any of these player’s shoulders.
"There is growth that is going to take place and certainly, we feel like we have a good stable of young players and in time they are going to be very good.”
With Pearce heading to Red Bull Arena, the club adds the Southern California native Califf, who made 65 appearances over the past three seasons for Philadelphia. The Rojiblancos are overjoyed with what the veteran defender can add to a back four that has struggled at times this season.
“He’s a stud,” said midfielder Pete Vagenas, who played with Califf while the pair was with the LA Galaxy. “He’s tough as nails; he’s got all the experience in the world. Obviously, he’s everything that you want in a center back. He’s tough, he’s good in the air and he’s a winner, so in all those aspects, I’m excited for the team.”
Fraser confirmed to reporters that both players will be arriving in Los Angeles on Thursday evening and are expected to be eligible to play in Saturday’s SuperClásico matchup against the Galaxy (10:30 pm ET, ESPN2, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com). Although both will be little more than 48 hours removed from deals that sent them across the country, Fraser believes that the SuperClásico will be galvanizing force for his two new additions.
“I think it’s a pretty exciting proposition to be honest, especially for and an attacking player [like Juan] … it’s an exciting proposition because you get to come in and do your thing and maybe make a difference,” Fraser said. "And for Danny, he’s an experienced guy, he’s played in some big venues and important games and I think he’d relish the challenge of stepping in right away and being an impactful player.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.