Chivas USA ink academy product de la Fuente
For Bryan de la Fuente, it’s a dream come true.
The 18-year-old Chivas USA Youth Academy product has joined the Red-and-White’s first team, signing his first professional contract on Wednesday. He joins Carlos Borja, Jorge Flores and Cesar Zamora as the fourth former Goats youth player on the first team roster.
“He brings a great possibility for the future,” Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez said of de la Fuente. “We’re going to give him the opportunity and help him to develop. He has the qualities; it’s about him making the adjustment to the first team. We believe in him and we’ll see how he does.”
De la Fuente was born on July 1, 1992 in Laredo, Texas. He moved to Zapopán, Mexico, before his first birthday and grew up near Chivas USA sister club Chivas de Guadalajara’s Verde Valle training facilities.
He played with the Guadalajara youth system from 2005 to 2007 before finally moving to Bell, Calif., where he joined the Chivas USA Youth Academy.
“I have great memories of playing with the Chivas USA Youth Academy,” de la Fuente said. “The coaches were always there to support me and help to quell my doubts, and they’ve made me able to make this jump.”
De la Fuente began turning heads while competing for the Red-and-White U-18 side at the Copa Chivas in Guadalajara and the Copa Saprissa in Costa Rica, two of the most prestigious youth tournaments in the region.
He has also appeared for the United States U-20 National Team this year at both the Dallas Cup and Northern Ireland’s Milk Cup, which the team won.
His performances in these competitions drew attention from the likes of Mexican sides Santos Laguna and Tigres UANL, but he maintained the goal of signing with Chivas USA.
“Chivas USA is really important to me,” he said. " I’ve followed the Mexican club since I was a boy, and this team is basically the same thing. I couldn’t be happier to be here.”
He spent the last week training with the Red-and-White’s first team and is eager to transition to the faster, tougher style of play in MLS.
“It’s been good training with the first team,” de la Fuente said. “It’s a little different than the academy. The players are stronger and faster, but I’m fitting in well. Little by little, I’m feeling more comfortable.”
Helping de la Fuente adapt to life as a professional are a few of his former Youth Academy colleagues.
“A few of my friends from the academy are helping me to transition,” he said. “Jorge Flores, Carlos Borja and Cesar Zamora have all been helping me to integrate into the team.”
With a third of the season left to play, de la Fuente could still play a part in Chivas USA’s final push toward a fifth consecutive playoff appearance. Until then, he’s focused on improving his game and adapting to life in MLS.
And he’s celebrating a bit, too.
“It feels great to be here,” de la Fuente said. “I’ve dreamt about signing a professional contract and playing here with the first team since I first came to the academy. My family made lots of sacrifices to get me here, and today those sacrifices are paying off. I’m glad this dream has finally come true.”