CARSON, Calif. – Despite an unfortunate injury to budding rookie midfielder Thomas McNamara, who had been a staple in the starting lineup this year, Chivas USA feel confident their attack will not skip a beat in his absence.
The trio of Erick “Cubo” Torres, Mauro Rosales and MLS newcomer Leandro Barrera is a major reason why the Rojiblancos could become more dangerous as the season rolls along. Torres and Rosales rank second in the league in goals and assists, respectively, and Barrera continues to impress the coaching staff since arriving on loan from Argentina.
“What works for them is that they’re excellent players,” assistant coach Paul Caffrey told MLSsoccer.com ahead of Saturday’s home match against Seattle Sounders FC (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live). “They are intelligent players. You can have a lot of talent, technique and ability, but when you put intelligent players together, they almost have the same brain.”
Torres, usually alone atop the formation, has shown an ability to react to the movements of Barrera on the left and Morales on the right. They are becoming more accustomed to each other, as evidenced by last week’s connection between Barrera and Torres for the game-tying goal against the Portland Timbers.
McNamara left with a right knee injury in the 63rd minute of that game, but the Goats showed resilience.
“We’re coming off a great performance in Portland, and that’s given us a lot of confidence,” Barrera told MLSsoccer.com. “We’ll feel the absence of Thomas, but we’ve got to focus quickly, and whoever steps in will have to do his best for the team.”
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Torres has five goals through six weeks, trailing only Seattle’s Clint Dempsey, who has six. Rosales has three assists and has been a catalyst on dead-ball opportunities. Torres and Rosales were, more or less, known commodities heading into the season, but Barrera, who has started five of the six matches and recorded two assists, has done enough to earn recognition.
“Leandro is starting to get used to the group and the players he’s with,” Caffrey said. “Going forward, he becomes more of a weapon for our team. We know he has unbelievable potential.”
Rosales and the wisdom he’s been able to share with a fellow Argentine has been a key factor and Chivas USA could only hope that impact is not temporary.
“Thanks to [Rosales], I’m here playing and fitting in,” the 23-year-old Barrera said. “The first day I arrived, he adopted me. He helped me in a lot of ways, and I’m very grateful. Thanks to him, I’ve been able to adjust quickly here and it has facilitated my situation.”