Guatemala will have three of its best players playing for MLS teams in 2005 after Guatemala national team midfielder Mario Rodríguez stamped his signature on the contract that will tie him with Columbus Crew on loan for the next year.
Rodríguez moves to the Crew from CSD Municipal and joins the same team that was the home of national team compatriot Fredy García for the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
With this new signing, the "chapina legion" (as the Guatemalans are known) in the U.S. will increase its number to three, led by Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz and Guillermo "El Pando" Ramírez with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Rodríguez, known as "El Loco," has defended the colors of his national team 32 times. He said he was very happy with the move "especially because I know that my arrival to the team was requested by the coach (Greg Andrulis) who has shown his trust on me. Now it is up to me to prove them right, (Andrulis) and everyone who provided me with the opportunity to play outside my country."
He added: "I'm always trying to overachieve, not only because my continuing with the team depends upon my play, but also due to my desire of winning the MLS Cup with the Crew."
Rodríguez won't be available for Guatemala in its CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago on March 26 because of yellow card accumulation, but he will certainly be present in Birmingham, Ala., four days later for the highly anticipated clash against the U.S. at Legion Field.
As a matter of fact, Rodríguez could be face-to-face with four of his future Crew teammates in that match: goalkeeper Jon Busch, defenders Chad Marshall and Frankie Hejduk and midfield organizer Kyle Martino.
Fernando Ruiz is a sports journalist for El Día de Guatemala.