Chivas USA had three new faces on the field for its scrimmage Saturday against the Seattle Sounders, and perhaps the most promising is an asset from Robin Fraser's appointment as head coach.
And we're not expecting him to make Chivas' roster.
Eriq Zavaleta, a U.S. under-20 national-teamer and high school senior from Westfield, Ind., was on Goats' backline for the final 30 minutes of the 1-0 defeat in Casa Grande, Ariz.
Zavaleta, who will be a freshman at Indiana next fall, moved last month from Real Salt Lake's academy in Arizona to Chivas USA's academy. His uncle is former Galaxy defender Greg Vanney, who had been director of RSL's Arizona outfit before coming in as Fraser's second-in-command just after New Year's.
He's certainly a prospect. He's got size (6-foot-1), experience (two years at U-17 residency in Florida, starting job for the U.S. at the 2009 U-17 World Cup in Nigeria) and accolades (NSCAA, ESPN Rise and Parade All-America, considered the class of '11's top defender).
And no matter how good he looks, no matter what he does, during Chivas' weeklong stay in Arizona, there's no chance, near as we can tell, that he'll be on the roster come April 19's Major League Soccer opener against Sporting Kansas City.
As we understand it, he does not qualify as a “Home Grown Player” -- clubs may sign players who have been in their academy systems for at least a year -- and would be dispersed into the league by lottery were he to sign a Generation adidas contract.
And it was only Monday that Indiana announced its recruiting class, with Zavareta.
OTHER TRIALISTS: Midfielder Guillermo “Memo” Torres, younger brother to U.S. national team midfielder Jose Francisco Torres, and Colombian defender Jimmy Asprilla also played the final 30 minutes for the Goats.
Asprilla, 30, who was at right back, has spent his career in South America and mostly at home, with three stints for Once Caldas, two more with Deportivo Cali and most recently with Millonarios. Torres most recently was with Pachuca in Mexico, his brother's club.
Also in on trial is Akira Fitzgerald, 23, a second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference goalkeeper last fall at Wake Forest and product of Baltimore Bays, one of the elite U.S. youth clubs.
FIRST LOSS: Fraser used a first-choice defense during the first hour, with the clear first-teamers in place -- Zack Thornton in goal, Jimmy Conrad and Michael Umaña in the middle, Ante Jazic on the left -- and rookie Zarek Valentin getting the nod over veteran Mariano Trujillo at right back.
Gerson Mayen (Los Angeles/Manual Arts HS) impressed next to Blair Gavin in central midfield, as he did in Monday's victory over San Jose at HDC, and Victor Estupiñan was given a run on the left flank. Chukwudi Chijindu (Upland/Damien HS) was up top the last 30 minutes; Sergio Arias relieved Thornton in the nets.
Former UCLA forward David Estrada scored Seattle's goal in the 75th minute, finishing a counterattack involving Roger Levesque, Jonathan Prieto and Miguel Montaño.
UP NEXT: Chivas has two more games in Arizona, Tuesday against Real Salt Lake and Friday against Vancouver.
LINEUPS:Zach Thornton; Zarek Valentin, Jimmy Conrad, Michael Umaña, Ante Jazic; Michael Lahoud, Blair Gavin, Gerson Mayen, Victor Estupiñan; Francisco Mendoza, Alan Gordon.
First 60 minutes:
Final 30 minutes: Sergio Arias; Jimmy Asprilla, Andrew Boyens, Eriq Zavaleta, Jorge Flores; Ben Zemanski, Guillermo Torres, Mariano Trujillo, Jesus Padilla; Sal Zizzo, Chukwudi Chijindu.
Seattle Sounders FC
First half: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Danny Earls; Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Steve Zakuani; Fredy Montero, Mike Fucito.
Second half: Terry Boss; Roger Levesque, Zach Scott, Leone Cruz, Michael Tetteh; Lamar Neagle, Servando Carrasco, Jonathan Prieto, Miguel Montaño; David Estrada, Seedy Bah.
CHIVAS USA 2011 PRESEASON
Feb. 1 vs. Fresno Fuego (PDL) at Templeton, Calif.: W 2-0 (goals by Gordon, Estupiñan)
Feb. 7 vs. San Jose Earthquakes at HDC: W 1-0 (Gordon)
Feb. 12 vs. Seattle Sounders at Casa Grande, Ariz.: L 0-1
Feb. 15 vs. Real Salt Lake at Casa Grande, Ariz.
Feb. 18 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps at Casa Grande, Ariz.
Feb. 25 vs. D.C. United at HDC
March 12 vs. FC Dallas at Frisco, Texas