It’s common for new players to join up with their new teams and repeatedly proclaim how excited they are to be there.
For San Jose Earthquakes newcomer Eduardo “Chofis” Lopez, the urgency makes a little more sense.
Lopez is the big-ticket addition for the Earthquakes so far heading into the 2021 season, the longtime Chivas de Guadalajara player finally moving away from the club he debuted for eight years ago.
“I’m just very excited to be with Matias [Almeyda] again,” Lopez told reporters on Tuesday during media availability through an interpreter. “I had been in touch with him and Jesse [Fioranelli] for the past three years. Unfortunately I was not able to come here earlier but thankfully everything lined up and I was able to join San Jose now. I know Matias and I know the coaching staff from my years back at Chivas and I have great memories with them. I’m just happy to rejoin them and just looking forward to starting off my career here in MLS. I’ve heard great things about it. I’m very excited to be in this league and very thankful to Jesse who did a lot to help me get here to San Jose.”
Why is Lopez more in need of a change of scenery than most players? He was benched indefinitely by Chivas last fall after taking part in a party, while players were supposed to be practicing social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. The club’s brass drew a hard line with the players involved after another player was accused of committing sexual assault at the same party, although Lopez was not implicated in any improprieties beyond merely attending the party.
Still, needing a new chapter in his career means there is plenty of motivation for Lopez to show what he can do now.
“Overall I feel very calm, very confident in proving myself here,” he said. “It’s been a while since I’ve had some game time, about six or seven months, I believe, but overall I’m just excited to be able to join a team, join Matias. I’ve gotten to meet my new teammates over the past couple days, so that’s been helpful. I’m looking forward to get back into training, get back into the routine and contribute to this new team.”
He’s technically on loan with Chivas this year, with the possibility of the club picking up a purchase option, but Lopez said he expects to be with the Earthquakes “on a long-term basis.”
“I would love to be here for a long time and be able to play and contribute as much as I can,” he noted.
Lopez is expected to chip in to San Jose’s attack and he has plenty of knowledge of working with Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda and his unconventional playing style. Eager to get off to a good start, Lopez said he was respecting his coach’s privacy as Almeyda mourns the loss of his father recently due to coronavirus.
“I have not spoken with Matias recently. I kind of want to give him some space and some time for himself and his family. But I’m happy to be here. As for myself, I’m just working on focusing on my training, my personal goals right now, trying to get adjusted to the team and get ready for what’s to come in preseason. I’m just focusing on myself and happy to be here,” he said.
Lopez’s goals are modest: To fit in with his new team and play regularly and play well.
“On a group level, I just want to be able to meet my teammates, get to know them, their style of play, adjust to the team, adjust to the league and just be able to contribute with what I can,” he explained. “And on a personal level, just be able to get to the best of my potential, be able to play a lot of minutes and ultimately become a key player for this team.”
If he becomes a key player, perhaps he can be an Earthquake for a good long time.
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