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CHIVAS USA

Osael Romero signs with Chivas USA

New coach Martin Vasquez makes first big move in acquiring the rights to El Salvador national team midfielder from FC Dallas. With departures, he could be a starter right away.

February 04, 2010|By Grahame L. Jones

In his first significant player move since becoming coach of Chivas USA, Martin Vasquez has brought on board a youngster with impressive credentials, someone who could step right into the starting lineup.

The Major League Soccer club this week acquired the rights to El Salvador national team midfielder Osael Romero from FC Dallas and immediately signed him.

Romero, 23, is expected to arrive in Los Angeles from his home in Usulutan, El Salvador in the next week or two, after the necessary paperwork has been cleared.

On Tuesday, Vasquez said he had noticed Romero while watching regional qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup.

"El Salvador all of a sudden started to play good football and got good results," he said, adding that not only MLS clubs but also clubs in the Mexican league were taking note of the Salvadoran players.

In Romero, he said, he saw "a young player who in two years has played probably 37 games for his national team and has scored eight goals" and has also "been scoring a lot of goals for his club team in El Salvador.

"So that's what we saw. We're excited. Also, he's very young. He's got a lot of potential and he's very excited to come and be a part of Chivas USA."

Chivas USA already has lost one starting midfielder with the departure last month of Brazilian free-agent Paulo Nagamura, who left to join UANL in the Mexican league at a much more hefty salary. In addition, it is expected that veteran midfielder Jesse Marsch soon will announce his retirement as a player and move into coaching.

Bringing in Romero will not plug the gap left by those two experienced and hard-nosed players, but it will add some offensive thrust to the Chivas midfield. In fact, Romero could be a starter right away.

"On paper, of course," Vasquez said. "But he has to make the adjustment. He has shown he can play at every level. He's played World Cup qualifiers, which in my opinion are a better level than MLS, so if he's starting for his national team, he should be starting for us."

Dallas had filed a discovery claim on the player, which is why Chivas USA had to pay a fee for his rights in the form of allocation money. The amount was not revealed, but Romero will be with Chivas USA on loan from his El Salvador club team this season.

In announcing his acquisition, Chivas USA quoted Romero as saying he was "looking forward to the challenge" of playing in MLS.

Chivas USA is hoping Romero will connect with local fans as well as another Salvadoran international midfielder -- Mauricio Cienfuegos -- who carved out an exceptional career with the Galaxy.

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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