Agudelo, Califf eager for fresh starts with Chivas USA
CARSON, Calif. – Neither wanted it to be this way. But after tumultuous endings with their former clubs, Juan Agudelo and Danny Califf now get a fresh start with Chivas USA, and they’re looking to make the most of their new opportunity.
Less than 24 hours after being dealt west from New York and Philadelphia, respectively, the pair was on the training field with the Rojiblancos on Friday as they prepared for Saturday’s SuperClásico matchup with the LA Galaxy (10:30 pm ET, ESPN2, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).
WATCH: Califf, Fraser on surprise trades
Despite recent injury concerns in recent weeks, both players told reporters that they feel fit enough to see extended minutes. Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser was evasive on whether they’d be in the starting lineup Saturday, saying only, “They might be.”
Regardless of their minutes, both players are simply happy to start somewhere new after difficult situations. Agudelo was practically giddy when explaining to reporters that the Chivas coaching staff told him to “play with a smile and have fun.”
Although the US International found playing time hard to come by in New York, he admitted that despite the uncertainty on the field, it was difficult to leave his parents’ home and the Red Bull organization.
“I was happy in New York, I wish things had worked out better, but the best place for my development was not a team like New York,” Agudelo said. “I’m just happy to be here. I truly believe from the first day here that my development is just going to shoot up and the sky is the limit here. I feel valued here.”
Meanwhile, Califf endured what he called “the longest trade in the history of MLS” as a week of speculation surrounded his highly publicized exit from the Union.
That behind episode behind him, the Southern California native joins a Chivas side filled with former teammates and even his former high school coach in Chivas’ director of soccer operations, Kevin Esparza. After his first training session, the vocal center back that he already feels like he’s “coming home.”
“I think that I can just be me [with Chivas],” Califf told reporters. “I can try to lead by example and do all the things that I’ve done throughout my career. I’m not going to try to be anyone that I’m not, but I’m too old to do that. I’m excited; I think there are a lot of really cool things going on here right now, a lot of changes in the last couple years so it’s exciting to get on that train.”
After finally joining the Rojiblancos, both players have put their past behind them and relishing the opportunity to make an impact in the SuperClásico.
“It’s going to be a fight, but I’ve been in plenty of those,” said Califf. “Probably not a whole lot of soccer in the beginning, more battles. But it’s kind of mean, so that’s fun.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.