Agudelo proves quick fit ahead of US camp
CARSON, Calif. – Things could hardly be going any better for Juan Agudelo.
After being traded from the New York Red Bulls last Thursday, the 19-year-old was immediately inserted into the starting XI for Chivas USA in their 1-0 victory over the LA Galaxy in Saturday's SuperClásico, going 76 minutes up top.
And now with his first match for the Rojiblancos in the books, the wunderkind headed to Orlando, Fla., on Sunday afternoon to join up with US national team. Agudelo was called into Jurgen Klinsmann’s training camp ahead of friendlies against Scotland, Brazil and Canada as well as World Cup qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda as well as Guatemala.
WATCH: Agudelo sizes up his Chivas USA debut
“It is kind of tough that I [just arrived] here, but there’s a long [international break],” Agudelo said after the Chivas win. “But I like it here so far, I love the coaching staff, I love the players and they’re treating me very well.”
Agudelo certainly appeared settled with the Goats, as he started the match on the right side of an attacking trio that included José Erik Correa and Miller Bolaños. After struggling to make an impact immediately, Agudelo swapped sides and began to press Galaxy left back Todd Dunivant.
The move paid major dividends in the 70th minute when he was able to help Correa draw a penalty, leading to the game’s only goal.
During the sequence, Agudelo leapt up for an Oswaldo Minda chip and collided with Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk. The collision allowed the ball to fall cleanly for Correa, who smashed the ball into the arm of ex-Chivas defender David Júnior Lopes, setting up the decisive penalty a minute later.
“[Agudelo is] a player that wants to be on the ball, he’s a very attack-minded player, he’s got very solid feet, you can see there are times when he wanted the ball,” head coach Robin Fraser said. “He wants to run at people, he wants to make things happen and I thought his impact was immediate. We’re extremely excited to have him and we’re extremely excited to watch him develop."
After his turbulent stint in New York, Fraser was quick to comment that he didn’t know what the Red Bulls offered the young forward in terms of development, but was confident that Chivas can be the perfect proving ground.
“We can offer him is certainly a lot of experience in terms of our staff and how we think a young player should be developed,” said Fraser. “The things that he needs to look for and the things that he needs to continue to get better at. We look at him as a player that is really just scratching the surface in terms of his potential and his ceiling is very high.”
Following his first appearance, Agudelo readily agreed.
“[Fraser’s system] suits me really well,” said Agudelo. “Just with my height and the crosses to the far post, I was dangerous then, and I think that moving forward that could be something that could help us get some goals. I love it that he encourages freedom.”
While it remains to be seen if Agudelo will make Klinsmann’s final cut heading for the qualifiers, the young forward was keen to share what the US coach thinks of his move to the Rojiblancos.
“He loves it,” said Agudelo. “I knew he would love it because it’s the things that he’s talked to me about, that he would love for me to get more minutes and experience in game situations.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org