The story behind: Daniel Antunez
Just one year ago, defender Daniel Antunez was cruising in Finland’s First Division, ‘Veikkausliiga,’ for his second stint with FC Inter Turku. When the opportunity to come Chivas USA came up, the 27-year old Santa Ana native didn’t have to think about it twice.
“I told Kevin Esparza back in 2008 that I wanted to join Chivas USA, but for one reason or another, it didn’t work out,” Antunez said.
Back in 2008, Antunez was drafted in the MLS Supplemental Draft by the Colorado Rapids from the University of Hartford. After being released by the Rapids, Antunez reached out to Chivas USA’s Director of Soccer Operations Kevin Esparza, who was his former coach at the Southern California Olympic Development Program, looking to return to So Cal. The unsuccessful attempt lead him to USL-side Rochester Rhinos and eventually, Mexico’s Estudiantes Tecos, where he would meet then-coach Jose Luis Sanchez Solá, ‘El Chelis.’
A series of injuries, and an ACL tear, kept him sidelined for the majority of the season, but Antunez’ talent stood out to Chelis, who supported the club’s decision to bring the defender to the Red-and-White early in the season.
“It’s comforting to know you’re in a team where you don’t have to start from scratch with the coaching staff because they already know you and know what type of player you are,” Antunez said.
On Sunday, Antunez made his MLS and club debut, coming into the game in the 62nd minute replacing Marvin Iraheta in Chivas USA’s 4-1 win at Chicago Fire.