Friday, October 02, 2009

Brazilian style blending in for Chivas Santos, Saragosa join Nagamura for Red-and-White's playoff push

The additions of Maicon Santos (L) and Marcelo Saragosa have Chivas eyeing a playoff spot. (Getty)

CARSON, Calif. -- Among the languages spoken on the field at a Chivas USA practice are English, Spanish, and sometimes even a little Serbian. But the recent additions of Marcelo Saragosa and Maicon Santos have added another vernacular to the pitch: Portuguese.

Saragosa was acquired on July 17 in a trade with FC Dallas. Santos arrived in Los Angeles much more recently, joining the Red-and-White on loan from Brazilian side Bonsucesso Futebol Clube on August 21. The two join Paulo Nagamura as the three Brazilian players on the Chivas USA roster.

"I have nothing but good things to say about Paulo and Maicon," said Saragosa. "They're good players and they're good friends. It's great that the three of us can work together to chase the MLS championship."

Santos, Nagamura, and Saragosa, who are 25, 26, and 27 respectively, were each born in the southern region of Brazil. Santos was born in Rio de Janeiro, Nagamura in São Paolo, and Saragosa in the inland town of Campo Grande.

"It's nice to have another two Brazilians on the team," said Nagamura. "Especially because I've already played with Marcelo, so I have a good understanding with him."

Nagamura and Saragosa were teammates on the LA Galaxy in the 2005 and 2006 seasons, helping the team to an MLS Cup Championship and a U.S. Open Cup title, both in '05.

While all three players acknowledge that Brazil has a reputation for a certain brand of soccer, each is careful to point out the importance of gelling with the team rather than trying to embody a certain technique.

"There is a Brazilian style," said Nagamura. "It's more technical or fancy. Brazilian players like to do step-overs, use their feet a lot, and they're very patient going forward.

"But it's not about the 'Brazilian' style that we bring to the team," he continued. "It's about adapting to the style of the team. We all have our own style. One is more technical, the other may be more defensive or creative. We each need to bring the little things in our game and adapt them to make the team better."

With more and more international players plying their trade in MLS, the league has become a melting pot of style and technique.

"The soccer in the world now is becoming more mixed and universal," said Nagamura. "There are distinct styles, like Brazil's, but these styles are all blending together."

Chivas USA's trio of brazileños has helped the team make a serious bid for a fourth consecutive appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs, notching five goals and three assists between them so far this season. And while they're proud of their Brazilian roots, they are, first and foremost, members of Chivas USA.

"I don't worry about style," said Santos with a smile. "I just do my job and work hard to give more every time for the team."

Jeffrey King is a contributor to

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