A dream come true for Cortez

Academy grad Cortez signs and makes his debut on Sunday

Chris Cortez Training

Photo Credit: 
Gabe Dahl / Chivas USA

CARSON, Calif. (Thursday, May 19, 2011) - It was a memorable weekend for Chris Cortez, and that’s probably an understatement. The young forward was officially signed by Chivas USA on Sunday afternoon, and only hours later made his MLS debut against the star-studded New York Red Bulls.

“It was a dream come true, honestly,” said Cortez. “It all just happened really, really fast. I signed, then all the sudden I see my name on [the team sheet], then next thing I know I’m playing against Rafael Márquez and Thierry Henry.”

Now twenty-two, the Mission Viejo born striker is a graduate of Chivas USA’s youth academy. Cortez has been training with the first team during the past few months, and playing with the reserve team where he scored a league-leading four goals. Cortez was able to spend time with his Chivas USA teammates, learn the system, and understand what the coaches expect from him. When it came time to transition to the full team, he was confident and ready.

“I think the transition has been pretty smooth,” said Cortez. “Soccer is soccer. Obviously it’s a little faster, the atmosphere is little crazier, and everyone is a little cleaner with their touch. But the guys have all helped a lot; the team has been very supportive and the coaches as well. I feel like little by little the transition will become easier.”

A big, imposing target player, Cortez says fellow forwards Justin Braun and Alejandro Moreno are two of the players that have helped him the most. He sees similarities in his own game, so he stays close to the veteran forwards in training, trying to glean as much as he can.

“Both of them are guys that I can really learn from,” said Cortez. “They’re both great at being physical presences. Justin likes getting in behind the defense as well, and I think that’s another thing we have in common- I enjoy getting those through passes. I try to watch them, observe them, and they help me out in training too, giving me little tips. I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Cortez had a front row view of Braun’s huge game on Sunday, before he entered the match himself, as a substitute for the hat-trick hero.

“It was awesome, Justin was really on,” said Cortez. “It’s great for him too. It’s nice to see him start, and see him getting goals, helping us get a result. I mean, three big goals on the road, the first hat-trick in Chivas history, that’s big time. For me to do that one day, that’d be another dream come true, it’d be awesome.”

Rest assured, the humble Cortez isn’t getting ahead of himself. He’s working hard, and truly taking it one game at a time. Right now all of his focus on this weekend’s SuperClasico, a matchup he’s been a part of before- as a fan.

“It’s one of the biggest games in MLS, it’s huge,” said Cortez. “Who’s the king of LA? I’ve seen a few of the games before from the stands, so I’ve seen the intensity. It’s going to be a lot of fun, I’m excited. If I can be a part of it, that’d be awesome. If not, I’ll just cheer everyone else on and hopefully we’ll get a win out of it.”