The town of Corral de Bustos, Argentina is a blue-collar, agriculture-driven town at the halfway point of the country’s two largest cities – Buenos Aires and Córdoba. With a population of only 12,000 people, it’s the hometown of FC Dallas assistant coaches Josema and Fabian Bazan. And it’s where Josema discovered the club’s newest signing while home in the short offseason.
Agustin Jara grew up playing youth soccer for Colón de Santa Fe in Argentina’s first division, but in December 2015, found himself working in his father’s textile factory by day, while playing for his hometown club, Sporting Corral de Bustos, in their league championship game. He didn’t know an MLS coach was sitting in the stands.
“It was interesting the way he was playing,” Bazan said. “He was a player that I could see fitting in the league – strong, fast, good with the ball and in attacking situations was very good.”
FCD’s defensive coach immediately went to work, researching his hidden gem.
“In Argentina when you’re 22, 23, and you are not playing on the first team, you have to find out why,” he said. “The good thing that he has on his side is he played with semi-pro players when he was 15, 16 already, so he’s used to playing with pro guys. He’s used to performing [at that level].”
Bazan sent self-shot cell phone video of Jara back to head coach Oscar Pareja and technical director Fernando Clavijo to get their thoughts on what he was seeing and went to work learning everything he could about his fellow Argentine.
“I found out everything about him because it’s my town, it’s my club,” he said. “I think he deserved the opportunity – he lives his mentality like a professional player as well in the way that he takes care of his body and the way that he practices.”
The Dallas staff decided that the 23-year-old was worth a deeper look and invited him to preseason camp. He played 170 minutes in back-to-back wins over New England and Grand Canyon University during the team’s training stint in Arizona and then saw another 135 minutes in club’s Red and Blue Scrimmage and the Reserve squad friendly against affiliate Energy FC.
While other trialists came and went, Jara stuck around – paying his own way to stay in Frisco and training with the club to prove he has what it takes.
“He wants to be here, he wants to play here, he said, ‘[If] I don’t play here, I go back to Corral de Bustos and I’ll keep playing there,’” Bazan said. “You want players who really want to play for you…those players that want to be here, it’s easier to figure out they’re going to give that little extra, the last 10 percent.”
After almost five months on trial, Jara’s dedication paid off as the defender signed his first professional contract on last Monday, and made his pro debut on Saturday.
“The first people I called were my mom and dad and my family in Argentina,” Jara said through a translator after signing his contract. “In Argentina, at my age, it’s not very common to get to this opportunity, at least not at the top level but that was always my goal and I knew that I could achieve it… I’m very grateful to [Josema]. He watched me a lot and helped me tremendously in getting me here and I’m just proud to have caught his eye and glad that he’s seen me and given me this opportunity.”
According to Bazan, Jara brings a strong left foot and an eye for the attack from the outside of the back line. As a former winger on the left side in his youth, his ability and awareness in the final third fits perfectly into the Dallas attack with high-pressing fullbacks.
“I think that he’s the perfect player for that – the player that can deal with the back because he’s fast, but when we are attacking he starts thinking about the other box,” he said. “Now we have to see and wait but we have plenty of confidence that he’s going to do well.”