The former U.S. national team captain was freed from his contract by Rangers over the weekend, and he returns to the league where his career began.If Carlos Bocanegra is to return to the U.S. national team picture, he'll do so as a member of Chivas USA.
The much-maligned MLS side traded a first-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft and an international roster slot through 2014 to Toronto FC in exchange for the top spot in the MLS allocation order, which it used to select the former U.S. national team captain.
Bocanegra, who has 110 caps for the USA, was benched for the USA's World Cup qualifying match in Honduras in February and has yet to be called in by Jurgen Klinsmann since then. Clint Dempsey has taken the reins as captain in his place, and Bocanegra was also left off the USA's Gold Cup roster to sort out his club situation.
As it turns out, it did not take long to come to a conclusion.
“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," Chivas USA sporting president Dennis te Kloese said in a statement. “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.
“His arrival also reaffirms and strengthens the identity we are seeking in Chivas USA, a team with outstanding elements who give a little extra to Chivas USA. The great combination of his experience and being from Los Angeles will contribute a lot to Chivas USA."
The 34-year-old Bocanegra is the second U.S. center back to return to MLS in recent days after San Jose signed Clarence Goodson from Danish side Brondby on Friday.
Bocanegra was freed from his contract with Rangers on Saturday and became a free agent, and he has elected to return to the league where his career began back in 2000 as a member of the Chicago Fire. He bolted for Fulham in 2004 and spent four years at Craven Cottage followed by spells at Rennes, Saint Etienne and Rangers. He spent last season on loan from the embattled Scottish side at Racing Santander in Spain's second division.
Bocanegra, a California native, joins a Chivas USA team that is in last place in the Western Conference and has conceded a league-worst 31 goals.
“I’m very excited to join the club,” Bocanegra said in a team press release. “I know it’s going to be a big challenge, because the club hasn’t been getting the greatest results on the field but it’s something I’m looking forward to. The club has made me feel very welcomed and did a big effort to have me sign with the club so that I’ll be able to help try to turn the team around into being on the positive foot.
“It feels really good to be coming back home. I’ve been following MLS a lot more closely this year, and I got my start here in the league, so I’m excited to seeing personally how much the League has grown. I’ve noticed how it’s grown so much by following it on TV and the internet, but actually being out there on the field and being able to compete make me excited to see how the level has gotten better and how it’s grown."