Nagamura, Saragosa samba in Chivas' midfield
CARSON, Calif. – They have known each other for 13 years and played together at three separate clubs in two different continents. They also speak the same language and call the same country home.
They are Paulo Nagamura and Marcelo Saragosa, and last Saturday evening, they were an impenetrable force in the center of the pitch for Chivas USA. The two Brazilians found instant chemistry in their first pairing of the 2010 season to help the Goats to a 1-0 victory over visiting D.C. United.
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“It was good,” Nagamura said on Sunday. “Marcelo did a good job tonight, and that’s maybe one of the reasons why we scored an early goal.”
Nagamura has been a mainstay in Chivas USA’s central midfield since returning to the team this past July. The 27-year-old has been matched up with a number of different players so far this year, including Saragosa, Blair Gavin, Ben Zemanski and Michael Lahoud.
“I’ve played with three or four different guys in the middle,” Nagamura said. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about how we apply ourselves as a team.”
The starting nod was Saragosa’s seventh in a 2010 season that has seen him struggle to break into the Red-and-White’s starting XI.
“For me, it was great to get back into the first team and help earn the three points,” Saragosa said. “For the team, it’s a much-needed victory if we’re going to maintain any hope of making the playoffs. I have to keep working hard, keep my head on the field and stay ready for the chances that I get.”
Nagamura and Saragosa first met back in Brazil, where they both played in the youth system of São Paulo FC. They were then reunited in 2005 when they both played for the LA Galaxy.
“We were 14 or 15 [years old] when we first met,” said Nagamura. “I’m pretty familiar with Marcelo. We’ve known each other for a long time. We have a good relationship.”
Both players admit that their friendship off the field plays a huge role in their strong chemistry on it.
“We’ve worked together on the field a number of times and we like doing it,” said Saragosa. “Paulo is a great player and a great person, and we feel very comfortable playing together.”
It’s unclear whether Saragosa will continue to be the preferred midfield partner for Nagamura as the team travels to Seattle on Wednesday for its US Open Cup semifinal. But if the two continue to play as well as they did on Sunday evening, it’s a real possibility that Goats fans will be hearing Portuguese in central midfield for weeks to come.
“It was Portuguese in the middle of the field [on Sunday],” said Nagamura with a smile. “It’s good; people can’t understand what we’re saying. They think they do – but they don’t.”