CARSON, Calif. – The clock is ticking for Chivas USA Homegrown player Marky Delgado, and with each passing day, the 16-year-old midfielder gets closer and closer to his professional debut.
After being signed in April, it was revealed that Delgado would be unable to play until August while he completed the league’s Homegrown player training requirements. But that does not mean that the teenager is merely sitting on the sidelines waiting to take the field.
Delgado has been busy adding new weapons to his arsenal including a successful stint at right back during Chivas’ Reserve League match against the San Jose Earthquakes last Friday. Delgado understands that gaining versatility will be vital for him once he’s finally eligible for first team minutes.
“Right back is a new position for me, but if I want to play then I have to take that position and do my best with it,” he said. “All of the information that [my teammates] give me, I take it in then try to do what they tell me and if I do what they say, then it’s no problem and everything comes out good.”
Throughout the match against the Earthquakes' reserves, Delgado was routinely in the thick of the action. Whether it was playing at right back or in his familiar defensive midfielder position, he displayed maturity and a soft touch on both sides of the ball.
It was not all glory as Delgado made one mistake when he was stripped by Sam Garza, a play that nearly resulted in a San Jose goal. But despite the ebbs and flows, the Rojiblancos coaching staff was sanguine about Delgado’s display against the Earthquakes.
“He looks fantastic; anyone that came out would never know that he’s a 16-year-old,” said assistant coach Greg Vanney. “He’s very aware of things that are going on around him. He jumped from being a right back, which he did very solidly to being a defensive midfielder on the ball with pressure all around him. That’s not easy to do and I thought he did very well.”
Reserve games are key for the youngster’s progression as they are the only chance that Delgado has to play with professionals. However, they are not the only minutes that Delgado has received as of late as the young midfielder is also playing for the Chivas USA U-18 Academy side and recently spent time with the US Under-20 side during a trip to Portugal.
For Vanney, who oversees the Chivas Academy, the belief is that every minute is important as he prepares Delgado for his professional debut.
“We like to introduce him into the big picture so he can start getting into a feel for it,” said Vanney. “It’s a process. We’re not trying to rush through that process, but we would like to reward him from time to time once he’s available and bring him along slowly so we can make sure that he has that long career that we hope and expect that he’ll have.”
Delgado, meanwhile, is simply preparing himself for the big time.
“I’m just trying to get ready as soon as possible,” said Delgado. “When the time comes and the spotlights are on me then I’m just hoping that I’m ready for it.”
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Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org