CARSON, Calif. - The next phase of Chivas USA players is slowly making its presence felt.
Chivas USA's prized signing, Juan Pablo "Loquito" Garcia, as well as trialists Hector "Pirata" Castro and Sergio Garcia "Matute" began training with Chivas USA on Tuesday.
However, Chivas fans will likely have to wait until any of these reinforcements plays with the Red-and-White. Garcia "Matute" and "Pirata" Castro have not yet officially signed while "Loquito" Garcia's pass is being held up by the Mexican Soccer Federation.
"I could play before but the Mexican federation did not want to send my pass so I'll have to wait until Aug. 15," Garcia said. "I could play Friday if the federation had complied."
Still, having the trio around has caught the attention of the club's current players. Chivas USA defender Ezra Hendrickson, for instance, was impressed by Garcia after just two training sessions.
"Juan Pablo is a very good player," he said. "He reminds me a lot of Amado Guevara; he's very dynamic, he's got a lot of moves, very technically sound. He's definitely going to help us a lot. He's going to give defenders in this league a lot of trouble. I'm just happy he's on my side."
Of the three, Castro is easily the most accomplished. The 29-year-old spent his first six seasons with Chivas de Guadalajara and played four games during the club's last championship season, Verano 1997. After a long spell with Monterrey, Castro spent the last two seasons with Morelia. Castro has started at least 10 games each season since the Verano 1999 campaign. In the past two seasons, Castro started 36 games with Morelia.
Castro said his chance to join Major League Soccer came just recently.
"During the draft, this opportunity presented itself," Castro said. "I accepted it because it's challenging and I'm looking at it as another challenge in my career. I need to help out my new teammates and try to help this team out as much as I can."
Castro's status as a trialist has not diminished his outlook for the team.
"There is a great group of guys here and they've made it easy to transition into this club," Castro said. "All we need to do is work hard in order to improve this club. I'm just waiting for the transaction to be complete so I can join the team."
Garcia "Matute," meanwhile, adds to the club's much-needed goalkeeper depth. Chivas de Guadalajara's former third-string keeper, Garcia spent a lot of time with lower division Chivas La Piedad and knows current Chivas USA players Isaac Romo, Hector Cuadros, Francisco Mendoza and Armando Begines well.
The attitude from the trio has been nothing but positive thus far.
"We're going to play excellent soccer," "Loquito" Garcia said. "We're going to turn this team around and make the playoffs."
Still, the former Atlas star cautioned against setting expectations too high.
"I'm going to just play my game and try to help out the team but we have to come out of this as a team," he said. "Nobody can do it alone."
Chivas USA will play PDL side California Seahorses on Saturday. "Loquito" Garcia will likely play his first match with the Red-and-White. Once he plays in an official league match, Garcia said he expects nothing but a challenging time.
"I know this league is important. It's a league with many good players and it's grown tremendously over time. It won't be easy here," he said. "But there are many games left for us to improve, start winning and make the playoffs."
Luis Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.