L.A. BLUES: Byers add strengthens attack

L.A. Blues made a move Friday night to bolster its championship hopes in the USL Pro league, signing Antiguan forward Peter Byers for the remainder of the season.

Byers, 26, who played three seasons with second-tier side Montreal Impact before returning home last year, scored four goals in seven games this season for Blues rival Antigua Barracuda, all against Puerto Rico United.

The speedy forward's contract with Barracuda was for just a month, and the Blues leapt at the chance to bring him in when they discovered he was available.

“After [our] game at Antigua in mid-April, some of our players told me about him,” Blues coach Charlie Naimo said in a statement. “I guess he had spoken to them and mentioned that he was interested in joining the team. I reached out to him the next day, but before I heard back, I saw a press release that he had signed with Antigua. So we figured that would be his club for the whole season.

“Then, a couple of days after we played Antigua at home in early May, I got an email from his agent telling me that it was only a one-month contract. Of course, we immediately responded that we were interested, and after pursuing him for a little while, we came to an agreement. We’re extremely excited about his acquisition because we think Peter is a great fit for the team.”

Byers has been a consistent scorer throughout his career, but he also has a reputation for disrupting chemistry. How well he fits into the team, and with fellow attackers Chukwudi Chijindu, Cesar Rivera, Akeem Priestley and Walter Gaitan, will likely determine the Blues' path.

L.A. leads the third-tier USL Pro's National Division with a 5-2-2 record. The team returns to league play June 24 and meets Hollywood United FC in a U.S. Open Cup first-round match June 14 at Riverside Community College.

“If you think about our team right now, we have almost all the pieces we wanted,” Naimo said. “The one type of player we haven’t had so far is a big, strong, fast forward that could stretch defenses and be a high target for us. Peter is that kind of player. He’s the type of guy who, even if we’re playing poorly, can operate in very tight spaces and handle two or three defenders at a time. That should be a tremendous help as we try to launch counterattacks.

“That being said, his skills also make him a fantastic asset in terms of our possession game. He really adds another dimension to it. We can probably be a little more direct now in pushing players up the field because Peter will be able to hold the ball for us. Having him here will just make our attack that much more diverse.”