CARSON, Calif. – Fresh off his year-long loan in Belgium, forward Tristan Bowen is back with Chivas USA and eager to make an impact with the Rojiblancos.
His time overseas will not be a guaranteed prerequisite for a jump into the starting lineup, however – he’ll have to wait a bit first for his chance to show what he learned during his European adventure.
Bowen took part in his first training session with the club on Wednesday after arriving in Southern California a few weeks ago after a grueling stint with Belgium second-division side KSV Roeselare. The forward has some time to get fit for Chivas, as he is not eligible for selection until the opening of the summer transfer window on June 27.
“I went through a long season, I was fit when I got back, but I took maybe two and a half weeks off just doing nothing and resting my body because I think I played maybe 38 games out there,” Bowen told MLSsoccer.com. “Coming in right now, I’m not the best, but it’s definitely going to get better. The training staff is going to a good job of getting me where I need to be to the point where I can come in and contribute with the team.”
Just what exactly Bowen can contribute to the team, though, remains in question.
During his time with Roeselare, Bowen scored three goals in 24 appearances, which included 13 starts. But what made his stint impressive was that Bowen continued to improve as the season wore on, starting in four of the last five games.
While the 21-year-old forward describes the Belgium second division as “not as technically sound as MLS” and – for the lack of a better word – “more cutthroat,” Bowen believes that he learned a great deal from the aggressive league.
“It’s a mentality towards training,” Bowen said. “Over there, there are guys that aren’t on a contract so whatever money that they get paid is from winning games, practices are a hundred miles an hour, people flying into tackles and the mentality of just being overly aggressive at times. After living away from home, getting through the hard times and the good times as well, most importantly [I learned about] staying leveled, keeping a good head and just being balanced.”
The prospect of bringing Bowen back to the fold is an intriguing one for head coach Robin Fraser, who recently sat down with Bowen to discuss where he could fit into a Chivas offense that has changed greatly since Bowen left last August.
“We just talked about how it went, how he felt his progress had gone over the last almost year now,” Fraser said. “For us it’s an opportunity to look at a player who’s gotten some different experience, some growth experience and we’re anxious to get him back on the field.”
While Fraser is excited to see what Bowen learned with Roeselare, the Rojiblancos boss admitted his staff will evaluate just where Bowen fits into the squad – something that could mean potentially another season in Belgium.
“It’ll be a decision that works for all of us, meaning us as a club and certainly for Tristan and his future,” Fraser said. “Certainly having been there, the opportunity is there for him to go back. It’s a matter of seeing what works for all parties.”
Although his return is by no means a guarantee, Bowen is planning to do what he can to earn a spot on the Rojiblancos.
“[My goal is] to be consistent, to be more aggressive and help the team,” Bowen added. “To be a little more on top of myself and push the envelope, give the coaches a hard time in picking the team and helping the team out.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org