FRISCO - It’s tough to pick too many issues with the squad Oscar Pareja and company put together in 2016, but if there was one thing he would probably have wanted more of, it would have been speed at the outside back position.
Consider that need addressed.
On Wednesday, FC Dallas announced their first international signing of the 2016-2017 offseason adding 20-year-old Ecuadorian left back Anibal Chala to the Supporters’ Shield and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champions.
“Ten years ago, it never would’ve been the case that a player like this would have come here looking to get into the national team,” said Technical Director Fernando Clavijo. “Today we are a league of choice and younger players keep talking to each other looking at what Mauro Diaz did. Now, Carlos Gruezo goes back and we have a good relationship with the Ecuador coaching staff. All of that leads to signings like this.”
With over 100 first-team appearances for El Nacional, Chala has an amazing amount of experience for a 20 year old, and has also appeared for the Ecuador U-20 national team at the South American championships. Chala’s must-see Youtube highlights show plenty of flash, but they are dominated by his speed. While FCD has had some fantastic outside back play in 2016, the departure of Je-Vaughn Watson meant Pareja’s options were more of the methodical type rather than a true wild card speedburner.
“The videos don’t lie, I’m a pretty fast player,” Chala said through a translator. “I like to use my speed. It’s one of my main characteristics, but I’m also a fast learner and I like to learn. I’m coming here with an open mind, hopefully I will come in here and fit in right away.”
His eyes are now on breaking into the Ecuador national team with about 18 months until the 2018 FIFA World Cup and having seen his countryman Carlos Gruezo follow the same path, he knows FCD is the right spot for him.
“First of all I want to thank FC Dallas for the opportunity. I’m very happy and ready to come here and show what I’ve got and give the trust you’ve given to me back to the club,” said Chala. “[Getting into the national team] is a personal goal that I would like to achieve and this is another step. I want to thank Dallas for the trust and hopefully I will achieve that goal.”
FCD had to fight off multiple teams in Europe and South America including Copa Libertadores-bound Emelec to secure Chala’s signature kick-starting what should be a busy off-season as Dallas looks for the final pieces to make an MLS Cup and CONCACAF Champions League run in 2017.
“When you come up with a player like this who is a youth national team player and you have an opportunity to grab him, you grab him,” said Clavijo. “This is an area we needed to improve and bring in different options. It was easy for us to make the decision [to pursue him] but it was more difficult to sign the player because there were a lot of teams after him…We’re really excited I think the fans will get excited when they see him play.”