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Carlos Bocanegra to Chivas USA: Things looking up around Carson

Jul 1, 2013, 4:36 PM EDT

Carlos Bocanegra, Randolph Hillsworth Burton

It became official just a short time ago. We suspected Carlos Bocanegra was coming back to Major League Soccer, and while a number of other destinations made sense, the rumors turned out to be true. The former Defender of the Year returns to MLS with Chivas USA, the Goats having acquired the Allocation Order’s first pick from Toronto to claim the U.S. international.

The move, confirmed minutes ago on Chivas’s website, is both a puzzler and , from another point of view, makes complete sense. After all, Bocanegra is Mexican-American, his father being of Mexican descent. For a U.S.-based team that’s made Latino players their priority, he represents a premium talent. Bocanegra is worth more to Chivas than he would be to any other club.

Still, this is a team that’s spent the entire season shedding salaries, through lopsided trades or the outright departures of the talents that littered Robin Fraser’s squad. What José Luis Real has is a barebones unit that looked to be relying on its connections to a struggling Guadalajara base to bolster its numbers.

Instead, the team’s made a move for one of the most decorated players in U.S. Men’s National Team history, somebody who’s 34 and sure to come with a six-digit price tag. The cost: a first round pick in the 2015 SuperDraft and an international slot through the 2014 season.

He’ll join his club on July 9, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.

A rough translation from Chivas USA’s announcement:

“This is great news for Chivas USA, as Carlos Bocanegra is a very experienced player with great image and with a strong desire to be in California after his time in European soccer”, said Chivas USA Sporting President Dennis te Kloese. “I think his experience is going to be very valuable for us, as he knows MLS well from when he played for Chicago Fire, and has a long track record with the U.S. Men’s National Team.”

Which is to say the obvious: Carlos Bocanegra should not only be a very good addition to a struggling Chivas squad, he’ll also provide a face for a team that lack players to market their product. Paired with Walter Vilchez in central defense, Chivas actually have a good center back tandem.

The big question is why. Why, in a process that often sees veterans steer their way to (and away from) locations, did Bocanegra end up with such a controversial franchise?

He’s close to home, that’s one thing. The biggest thing, though, is probably his reluctance to steer the process. While others have said ‘I’ll come back, but only if I end up where I want,’ Bocanegra may not have done that (or, who knows – he may have wanted to be with Chivas).

Regardless, Carlos Bocanegra now has the sympathy of a number of MLS fans, having been allocated to Chivas USA. But with a new coach, a strong Sunday performance against New England, and the speculated arrival of Erick “Cubo” Torres …

All of a sudden, things aren’t looking so dour around Chivas USA.

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