By FRANCO PANIZO
It is easy to see why a young player looking to further his development would be frustrated with finding out he is being traded for the second time in less than a year, but that is not the case with Juan Agudelo.
Two days after being shipped from Chivas USA to the New England Revolution via a shock trade, Agudelo took part in his first training session with his new club on Thursday. It was a scenario the 20-year-old forward did not envision unfolding earlier in the week, but he understood a trade was a possibility given his unwillingness to sign a new contract with Chivas USA.
“I respect that because I think they understood - two weeks before it happened - my lack of interest of re-signing with Chivas and knowing I had a year left (on my contract), they made a business decision,” Agudelo told SBI. “I guess it was them realizing my lack of interest in re-signing and they’re having some financial issues right now. That’s basically what happened, but (Chivas USA head coach Jose ‘El Chelis’ Sanchez) wasn’t really happy.”
That may be putting it lightly. Sanchez has been vocal about the trade that saw the Goats receive allocation money for Agudelo, saying he had no authority in making such a move and that he wished he could have kept the talented youngster with two goals and one assist this season.
One man’s frustation, however, is another’s satisfaction. Revolution head coach Jay Heaps is thrilled about acquiring Agudelo, not just because he will help lift the competition in training but because he will give New England another dangerous attacking weapon to try and end their low-scoring ways.
“The conversations started some time late last week, maybe Thursday or Friday, and it was one of those where there was a back and forth but he was definitely a player that we wanted to get,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps told SBI. “We want to add some players and you try to do it internationally when you can and you try to do it within the league when you can, and so he became available and it didn’t take long for us to make the decision to then pull the trigger.
“We want to get him playing at his highest level,” added Heaps, “get him acclimated with our guys and our system and what we’re trying to do offensively and the runs that we’re going to expect from him and the way we want him to play because he has all the natural ability. He’ll make our dangerous players even more dangerous because he’s someone that opponents have to watch.”
For Agudelo, there is no real frustration in having to make the move from one coast to another (aside from having to ship all his belongings). In fact, he is delighted to be closer to his family in New Jersey and equally as happy with how things have been going in his initial days with the Revolution.
“As soon as I came in, (Heaps) was very hands on, which I like. He’s very vocal,” said Agudelo. “First few years of my career, I didn’t really have a lot of speaking to by coaches and he told me what he wanted and (that) is a player that plays at any position in the attacking half, that can create chances, be able to assist and score goals.
“He’s looking to play me in a free kind of role in the attacking third, so I can play left wide, striker or right wide, whatever the formation is.”
That kind of free rein may suit Agudelo perfectly. A technical forward who likes to get on the ball and express himself, Agudelo has never really been given the tactical freedom to just go out and play.
That is, until now, and he is salivating at the possibilities
“That’s definitely my game and I just like to be here because of what they like out of me,” said Agudelo. “I don’t have to change my game. It’s what I’ve been comfortable with my whole life, the way that I play. I like that part.”
While Agudelo is optimistic about his future in New England, questions regarding the longevity of his stay remain. Agudelo is in the final year of his MLS deal and though he insists he is not against re-signing with the league (“the contract has to be right”), he also made it clear that his dream is to play in Europe one day.
Still, Heaps is not concerning himself right now with those details.
“We understand the contract situation and understand where it is, but hopefully it’s something where we’ll get real serious about after he’s here for a little while, scoring some goals, and the conversation can become real,” said Heaps. “But as far as that’s concerned, it’s a little premature to have that conversation now and he just trained (Thursday) for the first time. It’s just a matter of getting him acclimated and integrated into the group and that contract stuff will play itself out.”
For now, the main focus from both the Revolution and Agudelo is to get him quickly integrated into the system and adjusted to his new surroundings so that he can begin carrying the offensive load in New England.