SAN DIEGO -- Chivas USA's depth is thinner up top than anywhere else on the field, so Cesar Romero's performance during a quick but fruitful trial with the club has been as rewarding as it has been impressive.
The Goats have a fine supply of target forwards, but Romero, 22, is a finisher who can play off a target forward, a skill that ought to prove useful when a goal is needed late in games or as an option when Juan Pablo Angel is not available.
Romero, whose signing was announced Wednesday, has two goals in the equivalent of three full matches this preseason and could add more in Friday afternoon's scrimmage against Loyola Marymount University at Home Depot Center.
“The thing I like about [Romero] is I think in most every game he's played for us, he's had a goal-scoring opportunity,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said last week. “He seems to have a good nose for the goal. He has good feet. ... He's showing some ability to be dangerous in this league; I think every team's looking for guys who can be dangerous.”
Romero is excited for the opportunity -- and for the chance to absorb from Angel, the Colombian veteran who is arguably the finest pure striker in MLS annals.
“I'm really happy I was able to get an opportunity here at Chivas,” Romero said following the 5-2 loss Wednesday night against Club Tijuana at the University of San Diego. “[Now it's time] to work hard and try to get that starting job and help the team out as much as I can.”
He said learning from a “big player” like Angel will “always help. You can always learn from players with more experience. Juan actually gives me a couple little tips here and there. I always listen and learn from the guys who've been there.”
The former U.S. youth national-teamer from San Diego has played in the lower divisions in Mexico and Germany, and he arrived Feb. 1 in Chivas camp fresh from the Tijuana Revolucion of the indoor Professional Arena Soccer League, which also includes the Anaheim Bolts. Romero scored 33 goals in just seven PASL Pro games, making him the league's No. 2 goalscorer (with San Diego's Kraig Chiles netting his 42 in 13 games).
“Indoor was just a little pastime, a little hobby,” he said. “Not even a hobby. My friend's a coach for them, and he said, 'Do you want to help me out?' I wasn't doing much.”
And the game's not all that different.
“It's a little faster, a little more contact. It's a little different,” he said. “But two goals, a ball. Pretty much the same objective.”
Romero celebrated his signing with 20 or so minutes off the bench against Tijuana, which, despite the result, was a pleasing experience, but he wished he could have done more.
“I was really happy,” he said. “My [22-month-old] son, my mom, dad, brother, friends were there. Unfortunately, I couldn't score, but keep working and there'll be other chances.”
WORTH NOTING: Fraser's verdict on Romero's performance Wednesday: “I think he worked hard and looked busy at times and showed some pace and endeavor. I think he did as well as you could have asked in the situation” with Chivas down to 10 men following Miller Bolaños' red card. ... The game against Loyola Marymount begins at 12:30 p.m. on Home Depot Center's University Field 2, which lies just beyond the Galaxy's training field just southeast of the main stadium. ... Michael Lahoud's goal in Wednesday night's loss to Club Tijuana in San Diego was his team-best third of the preseason. Chivas is 2-5-0 with four preseason games still on the schedule.
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