Chivas USA fielded a U-23 team for the first time this year, in the local Coast Soccer League's SoCal Premier U-23 League. They did it in convincing fashion, dominating the competition during the season, notching just one draw and winning out the rest of the slate, including a semifinal last weekend against Vacaville Premier, and the final against Corinthians USA Pomona United. The results over the weekend means the Chivas USA U-23s were crowned state champions for the season.
If you are interested in who is on the team, here's the roster, as provided by the club:
Goalkeepers: Michael Abalos, Waleed Cassis
Defenders: Omar Elmasri, Mynor Giron, Tarek Morad, Angel Gonzalez, Marco Franco, Cesar Zamora
Midfielders: Eric Gonzalez, Anthony Dheming, Jose Gomez, Mario Ledesma, Javier Castro
Forwards: Bryan de la Fuente, Christopher Santana, Christian Gonzalez
Let's go through the profiles of these players, at least what's available:
Abalos attended Cal State Northridge 2009-12, playing all four years. He received a glowing scouting report on MLSsoccer.com, but was not drafted in either the 2013 SuperDraft or Supplemental Draft.
Cassis appears to be a college junior, who has just transferred to the University at Buffalo from Cal State University Los Angeles. A native of Ottawa, Ontario, Cassis has the number one jersey for the Bulls, indicating he'll probably start this coming season.
Elmasri was formerly a member of the Chivas USA Academy, and has featured in Chivas USA MLS Reserve League matches this year. He spent time in Mexico with Tigres, and had a short-term contract with the Vancouver Whitecaps PDL affiliate in 2011. The captain of this U-23 squad, he's about to turn 24.
Giron is a junior, playing collegiately for Cal State Northridge. He played also for a year at Arizona Western College in 2011.
Morad is a senior at UC Irvine, featuring regularly the last two years for the Anteaters, and popping up with a goal every now and then.
Angel Gonzalez has, like Elmasri, been playing for the Chivas USA reserve team on occasion this year. He was also in Chivas USA's Academy 2009-11.
Franco is a senior at UC Irvine, playing regularly last season and chipping in assists as well.
Zamora is one of a couple former full-fledged Goats, having come through the youth academy and been a pro on the senior roster 2009-11. Although he never made a first team appearance in league play in 2009 or 2010, it seems he hasn't had much luck in the pro game since being cut in March 2011.
Eric Gonzalez is a sophomore at UC Riverside, racking up a fair number of assists last season. Prior to entering college, he played in Chivas USA's Academy, and has played with the Chivas USA reserves in the past.
Dheming also comes from the Chivas USA Academy, same class as Gonzalez, and it looks like he played collegiately at Long Beach City College last year. He was selected to El Salvador's U-20 national team (Spanish) for the CONCACAF Championship tournament in the spring of this year, but he was not called again to the team for the U-20 World Cup.
Gomez has to have the greatest name recognition, at least in certain soccer circles, of the bunch. After starting his college career at Cal State Fullerton, Gomez played for three years at national powerhouse Creighton University, and was named a finalist for the Hermann Trophy his senior season. Although the scouting profile of him on MLSsoccer.com is mixed, he was invited to the MLS Combine this past January. After falling out of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, the midfielder was selected with the last pick of the second round by Toronto FC in the Supplemental Draft. After getting a look preseason, he was not offered a contract by the Canadian club. He was reportedly offered a contract by Tigres in Mexico prior to his senior season, and also reportedly had a tryout with Club Tijuana sometime in the last year, but he never signed a pro deal. It seems he is supremely talented, but has to be in the right system for him to get the most out of his skills.
Ledesma was previously on trial with Chivas USA during the 2012 preseason, but was not offered a contract.
Castro was listed as a UC Santa Barbara player last season, as a junior, though he is not on the team's current roster. He previously played for the junior college power Mt. San Antonio College.
De la Fuente is the other former Goat of the bunch, as he was a member of the team for the end of the 2010 season and all of the 2011 season, before being cut prior to the 2012 season. He then signed a deal with Club Tijuana, but could not make an appearance for the first team before being cut. He made one league appearance for Chivas USA.
Santana is another member of the UC Irvine contingent, and it looks like he's headed into his senior season. He previously played in Chivas USA's Academy.
Christian Gonzalez was the U-23s' leading scorer for the season, and plays collegiately at Cal State Northridge. He'll be a junior this year for the Matadors.
Congratulations to the team for their accomplishment! They will have a new tournament to play next month, and we'll get the scoop on that, and we may have some more content related to the U-23s soon!
What do you think? Leave a comment below!