CARSON, Calif. – All season long, the spot alongside Erick “Cubo” Torres atop the Chivas USA formation has been a carousel of sorts as head coach Wilmer Cabrera has searched for the perfect complement to his budding star.
The latest to get the opportunity was forward Félix Borja, whose loan move from Ecuadorian side Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito was announced last week. Though the Goats failed to find the back of the net in a scoreless draw on Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the manager told reporters he saw some bright spots in Borja’s MLS debut.
“He showed he can help us a lot,” Cabrera said of Borja. “He held the ball up front and created problems, worked hard and battled for every 50-50 ball in the air. Hopefully he can continue growing into the game.”
Borja, 31, represented Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and has also played for Greece’s Olympiacos, the Bundesliga’s Mainz 05, and Mexico’s Pachuca and Puebla. He was credited with one shot in 90 minutes Saturday.
“I’m happy,” Borja told the club’s official website. “Obviously in debuting, arriving to a new team, going the full 90 minutes, is always important. We couldn’t get the three points, but in the second half of the match, the team played much better.”
Cabrera said he was impressed with Borja’s ability to battle for possession, particularly because Cubo has mostly been doing it alone all year. The Rojiblancos have tried a number of others next to Torres, including Leandro Barrera, Marvin Chávez, Ryan Finley, Luke Moore and Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista, but haven’t had much luck.
“He’s an important incorporation and is an experienced player with a lot of strength,” said Torres, who has scored 14 of the team’s 21 goals this year. “He knows what to do with the ball and is a forward that can help us a lot to create some worries for the opposing defenses.
“We’ve still got to get to know each other more, and the idea is that one of us will fight for the ball and the other will attack the backside to worry defenders. Hopefully we can take advantage of the spacing.”
Borja spent most of the first week meeting his new teammates, including Cubo, who he played against in Mexico, and certainly caught their attention.
“He’s a beast,” goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said of Borja. “He can hold the ball and that should take some of the weight off Cubo’s shoulders. I’m excited for [Borja] to get his feet on the ground in this league. I think he’s going to be a real handful.”