Liverpool trialist nets for Chivas in reserve match

Banton scores, sets up another; unclear if Goats able to keep him

CARSON, Calif. – After a week’s training with Chivas USA, trialist and Liverpool youth player Jason Banton got a chance to show his abilities to the Rojiblancos staff in a match situation.

Banton tallied a goal and helped create a second on Sunday when the Chivas USA reserves defeated USL PRO side LA Blues 2-0 on the practice fields surrounding the Home Depot Center. It was a performance that led to a number of questions of whether or not the 18-year-old Englishman warranted being brought into the Goats squad.

The former Arsenal and Blackburn player started the match at forward against the lower-division side and was immediately influential. Banton was able to create first goal when he fired a shot that led to a rebound, which Andy Boyens finished. Later in the second half, Banton found space behind the defense and beat the goalkeeper off a pass by Victor Estupinan.

Throughout the match, Banton played in a number of different positions ranging from outside left to forward and admitted after the match that his natural position is on the left flank. After a week of training with the Rojiblancos, the Liverpool youth player is hopeful of a potential move from Anfield to the HDC.

“We're looking for me to stay on, obviously, just negotiating a few things, but hopefully stay on, but looking positive so far,” said Banton. “It's a great club, great staff, great manager and great background, so hopefully stay on and push forward.”

While Banton may have done well with his opportunities, there is no guarantee that he will immediately find his way on the Chivas USA roster. While speaking to reporters after the match, head coach Robin Fraser admitted that the team must be “careful” in terms of spending money and restricting the club’s cap space.

However, while the team may be looking to be prudent, the reality remains that Chivas USA have struggled to generate scoring opportunities, having scored only three times in four matches, which includes two shutouts.

“It's a matter of deciding if his asking price is something that we can afford or should afford,” said head coach Robin Fraser. “He's a talented young player, for sure, but like any or most 18-year-old players, there are some concerns so we just need to weigh the whole thing and decide what we think is right.”

Fraser stated that he was pleased with Banton’s ability to attack, but appeared to have some concerns with investing large amounts of money on an 18-year-old. Throughout the preseason, Chivas USA brass have stressed that their plans are centered around developing the team for the future.

While there remains a great decision to be made on whether or not the deal will work financially or practically, Banton is left to wait to see whether he’ll join the Rojiblancos.

For the young Englishman, who hopes to leave England in search for playing time in America, it is clear that he is hoping to make waves in Southern California.

“I’m a city boy from London,” he said, “so to play in LA would be a great thing.”

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano

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