CARSON, Calif. – Peter Vagenas knows how to win. Over his 12-year MLS career, the 33-year-old midfielder has been instrumental in bringing titles to his clubs with his industrious play and slick passing. Now he’ll look to do the same for Chivas USA.
Vagenas, who is from nearby Pasadena, Calif., has been in camp with Chivas for two weeks and his signing is expected to be finalized within days. After spending the last two seasons in the Pacific Northwest with the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps, the MLS veteran was quick to return home to Southern California.
“It’s no surprise because I’m from here and this is home for me and I have known Robin [Fraser] and Greg [Vanney] for a while, I’ve had a lot of respect for both of them,” Vagenas told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “Robin was my first captain in the pros and I sort of learned how to be a professional under his guidance. For them to come calling was a huge honor because they’re former players and they know what I’m about inside and out.”
The feeling of respect was mutual, as Fraser immediately sought to acquire Vagenas after he become a free agent through the league’s Re-Entry Process. Seeking to add focused players who can contribute both on and off the field, Vagenas fit perfectly in Fraser’s plans for the future.
“He’s got a lot of experience and has won a lot of championships," said Fraser of Vagenas. "He knows how to be a part of a team, both on the field and off the field. He brings us a lot, not just with what he does on the field, but knowing his way around the locker room and how to help create and foster that atmosphere. Having said that, it can’t be lost upon anyone that Pete is a very good soccer player. He’s got a lot of good ideas and comfortable with the ball at his feet.”
Vagenas arrives at Chivas USA most remembered by the Rojiblancos supporters for his extensive career with the LA Galaxy. He spent nine years with the in-stadium rivals from 2000 to 2009 and captained the club to multiple trophies, including two MLS Cups as well as a US Open Cup title in 2005.
As he prepares to suit up for Chivas, Vagenas does not feel that the transition will be difficult. Instead, he believes that his experience will only benefit the rebuilding club.
“I don’t know if difficult is the right word – obviously the Galaxy is a big part of my history and my past and I’m proud of,” said Vagenas of playing across the hall from his former club. “They’re still a club that I support and I want them to do well. The only difference is that this year, I’m going to do my best the three times that we play them.
“They’re going to expect my best effort as they have the last couple years that I’ve played them,” he added. “At the same time, I became a professional, I became a man playing in that organization. I have a lot of friends there, but again, I’m proud and honored to play for Chivas.”
Vagenas has been quick to embrace his leadership role with what is expected will be his new club. During last Friday’s scrimmage against the Ventura County Fusion, Vagenas dutied the midfield, partnering with youngster Marvin Iraheta, and the tandem flourished as the Goats controlled the first 30 minutes of play.
The pair has also bonded off the field, with Vagenas periodically giving the 19-year-old rides to and from practice. While he has been quick to step up off the field, Vagenas wants just one thing: to bring Chivas success.
“We’re here to win, whatever my role is," he said. "[...] I would like to think that I’ve had success in this league and that’s the only reason that my career has lasted as long as it has. I’ve been part of some successful teams and I have a very stringent way that things need to be done to be successful, and obviously that matches up pretty good to what is going on here.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.