Chivas USA today presented Mexican international Juan Pablo García as its first of several high-profile midseason acquisitions for the 2005 Major League Soccer season. The 23-year-old forward, a onetime Olympian and longtime standout for Mexico on the youth and senior levels, joins Chivas USA on a free transfer from Club Atlas of the Mexican First Division.
"The acquisition of a player like Juan Pablo underscores Chivas USA's commitment to bringing the best young Mexican talent to Major League Soccer," said Antonio Cué, President and Co-Owner of Club Deportivo Chivas USA. "We are happy to welcome Juan Pablo to Los Angeles and, most importantly, to the Chivas family."
Nicknamed 'Javán', or 'El Loquito', García will occupy one of Chivas USA's two remaining Youth International slots, pending the approval of his work visa. First, however, he is to represent his country in the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup, including matches on July 8 and July 10 in Los Angeles.
"It is an honor to join Chivas USA," said García. "I look forward to coming to Los Angeles with the Mexican National Team, defending our title as champions of CONCACAF, and then joining my Chivas USA teammates as we work together to achieve great things in MLS."
A native of Guadalajara, Jalisco, García joins the MLS expansion side from Club Deportivo Guadalajara's crosstown rival, Club Atlas, where in five years since his First Division debut (April 12, 2000 vs. Pachuca) García has accumulated a total of 116 appearances (77 starts) in regular-season and playoff competition, notching a remarkable 26 goals and 11 assists.
Internationally, García has represented the Mexican National Team in several prominent competitions, including the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.
He played a key role in Mexico's qualifying for the 2004 Olympics, starting for El Tri in its resounding 4-0 win over the United States on February 10, 2004 in Guadalajara to earn a berth in Athens and prevent the U.S. from qualifying for an Olympiad for the first time since 1976.
After representing Mexico in Greece, García returned home to enjoy a breakout season, as he notched eight goals and three assists in 19 appearances (12 starts) for Atlas during the Apertura 2004 tournament. His goal on November 28, 2004 led Atlas to a 4-3 aggregate win over Chivas Guadalajara in the quarterfinals, before falling 6-4 on aggregate in the semifinals to eventual champion Pumas.
"I have long admired Juan Pablo as a player," said Chivas USA Head Coach and Club Deportivo Guadalajara's Director of Football Hans Westerhof. "He has all the qualities needed to succeed in MLS: speed, intelligence, grit, technical ability and - most importantly - a knack for scoring goals. He makes a great addition to our club."
On Friday, García was named to Mexican National Team Head Coach Ricardo Antonio Lavolpe's final roster for the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup. El Tri opens group play in the 12-nation tournament on July 8 versus South Africa at The Home Depot Center, before facing Guatemala on July 10 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and then traveling to Houston to face Jamaica at Reliant Stadium on July 13.