The L.A. Blues spilled their worst-kept secret Thursday, announcing that Argentine attacker Walter Gaitan has signed a one-year contract with the USL Pro side.
Gaitan, who has played for Boca Juniors in Argentina and Villarreal in Spain and while with UANL Tigres led Mexico's Primera Division in scoring for the 2005 Apertura, could be a huge star in the third-division USL Pro, a new league under the United Soccer Leagues' umbrella. The Blues, a new pro club, will play home games at Cal State Fullerton, Centennial High School in Corona and -- just once -- College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.
The season begins April 15, and the Blues play their home opener May 1 at Fullerton against Barracuda FC from Antigua.
"We are extremely excited to add a world-class player like Walter," Blues head coach/vice president Charlie Naimo said in a statement. “Breaking down defenses and scoring goals is not easy, and throughout his career Walter has proven success doing it."
Gaitan, who also played with Necaxa and Veracruz in Mexico, turns 34 next month. He said he hoped to serve as a mentor to Blues' lesser-experienced players.
"I am very happy to be coming to the LA Blues." he said in a statement. "I expect to be a big part of the team, and I come ready to do big things in USL Pro. I want to be close to fans so I can interact and pose as an example for young players. I’m excited to be arriving soon and to be able to put my experience to work and create a long-term relationship with the team and fans."
Gaitan's contract is subject to approval by the USL and U.S. Soccer.
The Blues also have signed former Galaxy forward Israel Sesay, 20. The former U.S. under-17 national-teamer, who was born in Sierra Leone, made just three appearances in three seasons for L.A. while going out on loan twice. He played last season for Real Maryland, which was part of USL's former Second Division.
BLUES NOTES: The Blues have hired Alyse LaHue as general manager. LaHue, who played collegiately at NAIA-affiliated St. Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa, had been player services and sponsorship manager for Women's Professional Soccer's Chicago Red Stars, who have gone on sabbatical and will not play this season. Naimo, the GM of former WPS club L.A. Sol, was a consulatant for the Red Stars last season. ... The club has quietly been acquiring players. New faces on the roster: goalkeeper Anthony Peiffer, 34, the club's director of sales; Cuban defender Erlys Garcia, 25, who played for L.A. Legends in the USL's Premier Development League last season; defender Justin Valashinas, 23, a Cal Poly Pomona senior who attended Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach; defender Josh Suggs, 21, fresh out of Humboldt State University; midfielder Jhonatan Bravo, 25, who played at L.A. Mission College and for former PDL club San Fernando Valley Quakes; midfielder Gerardo Bravo-Benavides, 29, also formerly with the SFV Quakes; Brazilian-born midfielder Federico Cino, who played at Cal Baptist, was a Division II All-American after transferring to Cal State L.A. and played last year in Italy's sixth division.