CARSON -- Chivas USA's new Ecuadorans are both in camp, and we'll soon know whether that triggers the next step in the club's path to Major League Soccer's playoffs and beyond.
Miller Bolaños arrived Wednesday evening and spent Thursday's training session at Home Depot Center watching from a bench. Among those he saw was Oswaldo Minda, an old rival from Quito -- and, with Ecuador's national team, a teammate.
Bolaños and Minda are key to Robin Fraser's talent upgrade this season, potential yin-and-yang pieces who could play considerable roles as Chivas follows a fairly intricate plan toward something big.
That's what attracted Minda, 28, a central midfielder who joined camp a week ago.
“It's the work plan, the curriculum. The perspective they have on the future of the project,” Minda said this week through an interpreter. “What they're working on, that's the main reason I'm here.”
Minda was a regular for Deportivo Quito, which won three of the past four Ecuadoran titles and is a perennial in Copa Libertadores, South America's nations championship. He has been in Ecuador's national team pool since 2008, making 15 international appearances.
Coming to Chivas USA was about taking a step forward in his career.
“I had a lot of different possibilities, like Mexico and Greece,” he said. “Before I came here, I spoke to the national team coach [Reinaldo Rueda], and he recommended this would be a very good experience for me and my family. And based on the fact I'm a regular [with Chivas], it gives me the opportunity to continue contributing to the national team.”
Bolaños, 21, who can play as an attacking midfielder, wide attacker or as a second forward, also is coming to Chivas to be a “regular,” but no jobs have been won. The Goats have great depth in midfield and good depth up top, and both will have to prove themselves.
“[Minda has] come in and worked extremely, extremely hard, and he's extremely professional, as I would have expected,” Fraser said. “We're just looking forward to getting him up to fitness.”
Bolaños will need time to get fit and integrate, but Fraser says “he can be a true difference-maker for us. Like anyone else, he has to come in and earn his minutes on the field.”
Minda knows Bolaños well. The youngster played at archrival LDU Quito, and Minda says they “clashed a lot” in the Clasicos.
“We're different players,” Minda said. “He has a lot of technique, and I'm a lot more combative. I've had the opportunity to check him, and I've had to check him hard. He doesn't bend. He doesn't fold. He's not afraid.”
How good is Bolaños?
“He's terrible,” Minda replies, to much laughter. “No, after [LDU's] Edison Mendez, he's probably the best player we have in Ecuador.”