CARSON, Calif. – When Paolo Cardozo was acquired from the LA Galaxy for defender David Júnior Lopes in April, the 2011 MLS SuperDraft first-round draft pick was expected to play a major role for Chivas USA.
Things haven’t gone quite as seamlessly as he wanted, but the diminutive Uruguayan is doing his best to show that he should be considered for a position in the starting XI.
In last Friday’s Reserve League game against San Jose, Cardozo was electric, scoring two goals and setting up a penalty kick goal for Miller Bolaños in a 3-1 Chivas victory. For the dynamic young attacker, the performance was emblematic of a player who has been challenged to perform up to his abilities.
“We challenged him over the last few days,” Chivas USA assistant coach Greg Vanney told reporters on Friday. “He's crafty in possession and can speed around, but at the end of the day, as an attacking midfielder you have to have the final product. Today, he definitely had some good looks.”
It’s been a difficult stretch for Cardozo since his trade across The Home Depot Center hall as, to date, the 22-year-old has made just three appearances for Chivas USA.
So last Friday may have only been a Reserve League appearance, but against San Jose, he looked closest to the player who was so promising to the Rojiblancos when they made the deal.
Cardozo routinely placed the Earthquakes on their heels with his clever passes, darting runs and clinical finishing. The club hopes that performance could be a sign of things to come.
“He's put in his best effort since he's been here,” Vanney said of Friday’s match. “He was dangerous – he was goal-dangerous. ... For him, it's getting him to think about the goal and think about the final product and not just about possessing around the field.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.