Chivas USA make good on local talent pledge in Iraheta

Salvadoran-born midfielder has been a star at SoCal youth level

Marvin Iraheta Cosmos

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CARSON, Calif. – Chivas USA have stressed repeatedly that unearthing local talent is a key pillar in the club’s philosophy. On Tuesday, the club backed that up with the signing of local starlet Marvin Iraheta, its first foray into the vast Southern California talent well.

Born in Departamento Cabañas, El Salvador, Iraheta moved to the Los Angeles area at 17 and settled in Pasadena, where he quickly became a force on the local youth soccer scene.

In less than three years, the midfielder amassed an impressive résumé at the youth level. Among his accompishments are U-17/U-18 US Development Academy National Player of the Year honors for the 2009 and 2010 seasons and joining the New York Cosmos for the Paul Scholes testimonial match against Manchester United at Old Trafford last August.

“I’m very happy about the opportunity that I’m being given,” the 19-year-old Iraheta told reporters last week ahead of his official signing. “This is something new for me and I’m going to work as hard as I can so that I can reach the top, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has been able to put me in contact with Chivas USA and allowed me to be here.”

The Salvadoran-born midfielder joined the Rojiblancos after his academy coach organized a training stint with head coach Robin Fraser and the rest of the Chivas coaching staff.  After observing the strong defensive midfielder with a nose for goal, Fraser was immediately struck by Iraheta’s talents.

“Marvin is a tremendous product of Southern California soccer,” Fraser told reporters last week. “He's a kid who was the Development Academy's Player of the Year a couple years back, certainly highly sought-after, well-recognized for his achievements. He's a no-nonsense, hard-working midfielder, a battler and a true competitor.”

Iraheta, a green card holder who is seeking U.S. citizenship, must now find a way to live up to the hype generated by his stellar youth career. He faces a stiff climb to work his way into a Chivas squad that boasts great depth at midfield and is headlined by 2011 MLS All-Star Nick LaBrocca.

With reserve matches and US Open Cup games key to his ability to earn a spot on the team, Iraheta is excited for the opportunity that professional soccer brings.

“It’s a big experience for me to play with players who have experience of playing with many teams,” Iraheta said with a smirk. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com