Zotinca back with Chivas USA as trialist

Romanian-born defender could provide depth for Red-and-White

After an entire year away from the game of soccer, Alex
Zotinca has returned to the pitch. The 33-year-old utility defender has joined
Chivas USA this week as a trialist with the club.

Zotinca had been on the roster with the Red-and-White in
2007 and 2008, but was waived by the club in November 2008.

“There are a ton of emotions coming back,” said Zotinca
after practice on Monday. “I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Chivas
thought about me as an option for the season. I’ll work hard and we’ll see if
they have a deal for me.”

Though behind in his fitness, Zotinca has looked solid in
his first few practices with the club. He feels comfortable under new Chivas
USA head coach Martín Vásquez, whom he knows from when Vásquez was an assistant
with the club in 2007.

“I’m happy to be back with Martín,” said Zotinca. “I’m happy
that he got the opportunity to be the head guy. I think he’s doing a tremendous

Zotinca, Romanian by birth, got his start in professional
soccer with clubs FC Inter Sibiu and Romanian powerhouse Steaua Bucharest, for
whom he appeared in the UEFA Cup. He then moved to the U.S. where he played
indoor soccer with the Kansas City Comets before joining the Kansas City Wizards
in 2003.

“Alex brings us experience,” said Vásquez. “He’s got good
qualities and he’s a professional. He also knows the players and teams in this
league, and that’s a big plus.”

Though perhaps best-known as a right back, Zotinca can play
anywhere in defense. His versatility will serve Chivas USA well as the team
adapts to a defensive core that includes new players Michael Umaña and Carlos
Borja, and returning goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.

“I could be filling in for a few different spots,” said
Zotinca. “As long as I am fit, I can help out.”

Chivas USA have yet to fill all their roster spots, which
leaves space open for a potential contract with Zotinca. And given his veteran
calm and leadership in practices thus far, Goats fans may see him in
red-and-white stripes before too long.

“He looks good so far,” said Vásquez. “We have another two
weeks [before the April 15 transfer deadline] to make a decision, but if he
gets fit, I believe he can help us.”