Our wait may be over, as there are brand-new Chivas USA players! Adam Serrano has reported on twitter that the Goats have officially signed French midfielder Laurent Courtois and Brazilian defender David Junior Lopes. Serrano also reports that Courtois trained with the team today, so he may get some game action as soon as Saturday.
For fans of the Goats, the expectation was that the team would pick up at least one player during this transfer window, which fully and officially opened on July 15, and hopefully two players. Now that it has happened in one day, their activity in the transfer market is probably over. But let's get acquainted a bit more with the new members of Chivas!Laurent Courtois: 32 years old, midfielder, previously played for Ajaccio, Toulouse, West Ham United, Levante, and Grenoble. He is older, but hopefully that means he will provide some experience for an attacking midfield that is very young. Serrano said that in practice today he played on the left wing and was practicing crosses. Of course, we will have to wait to see if that will be his position or if Robin Fraser is experimenting with the best position in practice. If he does end up on the left wing, Jorge Flores will be moved to a new position or possibly put on the bench.
The team needs a goalscorer above all else, and my very preliminary reports are that Courtois will likely not provide many. I think he is meant to provide service for other players, including the current forwards, as he has only scored 27 goals in his career, which has been in both first and second divisions in Europe. Furthermore, in statistics going back to 2001-02, he has totaled 9 assists. I'm not sure if he has played different positions in his career or if he has had a more defensive role, but he hasn't exactly lit up the scoring charts. Despite that, it may be just the opportunity for him to demonstrate his class. Although he is a forward, Eric Hassli was an unknown French quantity to most soccer fans in North America before his move to Vancouver this season, and despite his penchant for red cards, has been one of the bright spots in a difficult inaugural season for the Whitecaps. If Courtois can have a similar impact as a midfielder for Chivas (minus the red cards, of course) this could be a genius move. At this point, it looks like Chivas are looking at Courtois as a diamond in the rough.
Additionally, although terms haven't been announced (and as it is MLS, may never be fully disclosed) Courtois was last with Grenoble, which as I understand it, has filed for bankruptcy and may be forced to shut down permanently as a club. As a result, there has been a run on decent players from the club, who are available on free transfers. If Chivas got Courtois on a free transfer as I expect, it represents a potentially shrewd piece of business from Chivas and one that provides flexibility to make additional moves. Furthermore, Courtois is evidently fluent in English and has a twitter account (@laurentcourtois) where he tweets in English at times, pretty well it seems, so that plus his experience playing in Spain and England should make the cultural adjustment to the United States relatively smooth.
David Junior Lopes: 29 years old, defender, previously played for Iraty (Brazil), NK Osijek (Croatia), Terek Grozny (Russia), Cordoba (Spain) and Universitatea Craiova (Romania). He plays as a center back, which is obviously a key need for Chivas, so if he is at all up to snuff, he'll get in the lineup as soon as he is ready. Based on his past clubs, he has spent time all over the place in some pretty obscure leagues (it says a lot that the most famous club you've played for is based in Chechnya). But it makes for some difficulty finding info on him on the internet, so I don't have much to specifically offer him at this point. He has a highlight video on Google that you can check out, that looks like it was made as a resume video a few years back. It is a bit strange to watch a highlight reel from a defender as it is just a bunch of quick cuts of tackles, passes and skills on the ball, but from the looks of it he has a lot of size and is built like a tight end, at least compared to most soccer players. Size is definitely something Chivas certainly need on the backline, so he will likely be a much-welcome addition. It seems like he is also a diamond in the rough for Chivas, so let's hope he can contribute and show his class and find a home in the league. And what name is he going to go by? Junior? Lopes? Davidinho? I look forward to finding out.
Expect an update about these players and their signing as details become known in the next few days.
What do you think? Are Chivas making the right moves? Do you think Courtois and Lopes will become integral parts of the team? Leave a comment below!