CARSON, Calif. – Oswaldo Minda’s commanding presence in the center of the park helped him become one of the Ecuadorian league’s most feared midfielders. Now, the 28-year-old is hoping to enjoy the same success with Chivas USA.
Minda joined Chivas this offseason from defending Ecuadorian champions Deportivo Quito, bypassing offers to join a wide range of clubs from Greece, Mexico and Italy in order to suit up for the Rojiblancos. The Ecuador international was the first of three key South American signings for the club this offseason, joining Colombian defender John Alexander Valencia and young Ecuadorian forward Miller Bolaños.
Minda shares a long history with Bolaños, having played alongside Bolaños' brother, Alex, with the Ecuadorian national team and he has become fast friends with Valencia. With his fellow South Americans by his side, the tenacious midfielder has adapted quickly to his new team.
“I’m really happy to be with this team,” Minda told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday morning. “It really hasn’t been that hard to adapt. I’m getting to know every member of the team and every day we get better together.”
Minda arrives at Chivas USA after accruing an impressive résumé in Ecuador. Having spent the last four years with Deportivo Quito, Minda helped las Chullas to three Ecuadorian league titles while solidifying himself as a regular on the Ecuadorian national team. Minda has sparkled with La Tri, forcing head coach Reinaldo Rueda to move captain Walter Ayoví – a natural midfielder – to outside back in order to accommodate Minda.
After an exhaustive search for added midfield depth, Minda’s hard-nosed play with club and country caught the eye of Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser. After meeting with Minda in Ecuador, and after two weeks of training with the Rojiblancos, Fraser is confident that he has found his man cornerstone in the midfield.
“He’s what I expected, he’s a very solid pro, he’s got a lot of good ideas before he gets the ball,” Fraser told reporters earlier in the week. “His first touch is clean and he covers ground, he covers ground, he covers ground. This is a guy who is a very experienced and professional player and I think that he brings a lot to us.”
Since joining the club two weeks ago, Minda has started in a defensive midfield role alongside Pete Vagenas in Fraser’s 4-2-3-1 alignment, which the Chivas boss has used extensively throughout the preseason.
Alongside Vagenas, Minda has proven an apt midfield general. Not only has he helped organize the line, but he has also provided timely passes that have allowed wide players Mike Lahoud and Ryan Smith to contribute to the attack.
Even though he has enjoyed initial success, Minda admits he is still adapting to the American style of play, and he sees it as a great challenge.
“What has impressed me about American soccer is that it’s very fast, requires a lot of strength and technically it’s very good,” said Minda. “Obviously, playing here is very important for my own personal growth as a player.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org