OBETZ, Ohio – Jairo Arrieta hoped countryman and former Deportivo Saprissa teammate Olman Vargas would show him around Columbus and help the forward get acclimated over the next 10 days or so.
But just as Arrieta arrived in town, Vargas was called to the Costa Rican national team Saturday afternoon and will miss most of Arrieta’s brief stay before the newest member of the Crew return home to bring his wife and three-year-old daughter to central Ohio later this month for the rest of the season.
Nonetheless, Arrieta felt comfortable in his first practice Monday.
“I introduced myself to everybody, and once practice started, I felt normal and tried to mesh with the group,” Arrieta told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “They’ve been really nice to me. I saw a lot of good players and hope I can adapt as quickly as I can.”
Vargas, who joined the Crew in January, planned to be Arrieta’s tour guide and help him find a place to live for his family until an injury to Álvaro Saborío prompted his unexpected call-up.
Costa Rica have World Cup qualifying matches Friday against El Salvador and at Guyana on June 12. By the time Vargas returns, Arrieta will likely be headed back to Costa Rica to make final arrangements for his move to Columbus.
Arrieta, 28, cannot be added to the roster until the transfer window opens June 27, but the Crew brought him in to gain fitness and learn the system. Arrieta’s last game for Saprissa was April 26.
“He’s still trying to get fit, but from what I’ve seen, he looks sharp,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said. “I can tell he has very good feet. He has a very good understanding of the game.”
Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic, in his first season with the Crew, said it’s good that Arrieta is here now to be integrated into a new culture without the pressure of playing.
“He will have time for adaptation to the team,” Mirosevic said. “I already told him it will be no problem in the city. He has a family like me. It’s going to be very easy because it is a very nice place to live.”
Marshall working his way back to training
Defender Chad Marshall is slowly making progress toward returning after suffering concussion symptoms when he was injured in training on May 4.
He ran laps around the outer training field on Monday to raise his heart rate and said afterward that he felt fine. Head coach Robert Warzycha said his captain has been symptom-free since the middle of last week and was cleared by doctors to resume physical activity.
“If he is not going to have headaches, then he can probably practice,” Warzycha said.
The Crew have been particularly cautious because Marshall has a history of concussions.
Meanwhile, second-year defender Rich Balchan, who has undergone two sports hernia-related surgeries in the past 10 months, is expected to see the specialist who did his first operation because he is still experiencing pain.