CARSON, Calif. – An assist, two shots and 71 minutes.
That’s what Chivas USA have gotten from newcomer Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista through the first five weeks of the season. It might not seem like much, but head coach Wilmer Cabrera has been consistent in saying he intends to bring the 34-year-old forward along slowly as he transitions to a new league and team.
“He’s a player that is going to help us, but it’s little by little,” Cabrera told reporters last week. “He needs to get adjusted, needs to get fit and, though he’s been working very well, to play 90 minutes, we don’t want to sacrifice him.”
Bautista has not attempted a shot since his debut on March 9 against the Chicago Fire when he played a season-high 25 minutes. He has been a substitute in all four appearances, with his assist coming at FC Dallas on March 22. He has also played in both of Chivas USA’s Reserve League matches.
“At this point in his career, he’s not a 90-minute player,” assistant coach Paul Caffrey told MLSsoccer.com ahead of Saturday night’s road game against the Portland Timbers (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live). “He’s not a player we would see starting a tremendous number of games.
But he’s a player with tremendous experience and technique who we look for to score coming on later in games, help us try to keep possession or get momentum going forward. He’s somebody who could do that.”
Though Bautista has not seen many minutes, he has shown promise in those moments.
“Every time we use him, he tries and works hard,” Cabrera said. “We’re waiting on him and counting that he brings his talent.”
Said Caffrey: “His intelligence is what separates him from other players. You combine the intelligence with the technique, and you have a very good weapon that could help the team offensively.”
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With six goals so far this year, the Rojiblancos (1-2-2) rank last among the Western Conference teams that have played five games. And as Chivas USA wait for Bautista to get acclimated and potentially help the attack, the offense aims to find the correct combination.
“We’ve done pretty well so far,” rookie midfielder Thomas McNamara told MLSsoccer.com. “Obviously not last weekend [against the LA Galaxy, a 3-0 loss], but you look at the other games before that, we’ve been pretty aggressive for the most part.
"We will continue doing what we believe in and hopefully it will work out for us.”