As expected, Chivas USA has turned over their roster once again this season - perhaps more than anyone might have predicted, but still, we expected many changes. At the moment, 13 players remain on the roster from last season's squad, but just a couple of those players never made an appearance in 2012. You may recall that midfielder Marvin Iraheta was signed with some modest fanfare last year as a teenager, but the bad luck of tearing his ACL in Chivas' very first preseason scrimmage sunk his chances of seeing the field last season. Although he was injured at the end of January 2012, and came off the team's injury report late in the season, he never made a first team appearance in 2012.
Hopefully, this year is different for the now-20 year old, who has featured regularly this preseason and has appeared to come out of game action so far unscathed. Despite the uncertainty surrounding a very young player who suffered such a serious injury, Iraheta seems to be an integral part of Chivas USA coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola's plans, and who may be able to make a mark on the pro game. Certainly, his accomplishment as the top U.S. Development Academy player in 2009-10, and his play with the New York Cosmos Academy, including an appearance during Paul Scholes' testimonial against some of the brightest lights in world soccer, speaks to his considerable potential.
One aspect I found interesting in this recent interview with Iraheta on Top Drawer Soccer's "91st Minute" blog is Iraheta's description of his position. Although the interview is quite wide-ranging, he mentions at one point that he is a "center defensive midfielder." I suppose I always thought of him as more of an attacking midfielder just because, and with Oswaldo Minda returning and Edgar Mejia joining the club, I'm not sure if Iraheta will get a lot of time to play holding mid. However, in the preseason, it looks as though Chelís isn't afraid to play two defensive midfielders at the same time in his 3-5-2 formation, so Iraheta could yet see some regular time.
Regardless of his position, Iraheta looks set to become a fan favorite, as he and new teammate Steve Purdy have gotten a great deal of support from fellow Salvadorian fans so far this preseason. Iraheta hasn't broken into El Salvador's National Team yet, while Purdy has, but it is safe to say there are big expectations for the youngster. If he can start his pro career in earnest in strong form for Chivas USA, Iraheta may well be on his way to representing his country before long.
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