SAN JOSE, Calif. — Veteran midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy should have no trouble navigating around his new home stadium.
Ballouchy, a former collegiate All-American with Santa Clara, will be returning to the Broncos’ Buck Shaw Stadium after the San Jose Earthquakes acquired him Monday from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for a 2013 international slot and a conditional 2013 draft pick.
Having been squeezed out of playing time in New York, the Moroccan-born Ballouchy is expected to augment a San Jose attack that already leads the league with 45 goals on the year.
“He’s a very skillful player, and he’s MLS proven,” Quakes general manager John Doyle said. “I know he’s excited to come to San Jose, having played college soccer at Santa Clara. He trained with some a group of guys a couple of years ago, and he really enjoyed it. I think he likes the atmosphere here.”
The Quakes’ midfield depth was thinned earlier this month when the club parted ways with disappointing Colombian newcomer Tressor Moreno. Ballouchy gives San Jose head coach Frank Yallop another option and some insurance as they attempt to chase down their first Supporters’ Shield since 2005.
WATCH: Ballouchy gets on scoresheet vs Montreal
“He’s a good quality player, just adds to the team and I’ve liked him,” Yallop said. “I’ve seen him for the last seven years now, and he’s starting to really blossom. Even when he was in Colorado [from 2007 into 2010], we semi-inquired about him. He sees the game a little bit different, plays very, very well in possession and he’ll fit in really well with us.”
Yallop said he feels Ballouchy can play anywhere in the midfield or even as a second forward. The 29-year-old was expected to arrive Monday and should participate Tuesday in the Quakes’ international friendly against English Premier League side Swansea City, Yallop said.
“He really, without being a through-ball player, looks to play forward and attack,” Yallop said. “Sometimes stats are a little misleading for the way he plays, but I think he’s a dangerous player that sets up other people to make good passes. He picks the right pass. I think he’s one of those players that stands out in games without being on the stat sheet all the time.”
The trade completes a Bay Area hat trick of sorts for Ballouchy, who came to the United States from Morocco as a teenager. Ballouchy finished his prep soccer career at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, Calif., and transferred to Santa Clara from Creighton before earning second-team All-American honors in 2004 and a first-team berth in 2005.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.