CARSON, Calif. – Cristian Pavon, the newest member of the LA Galaxy, is wasting no time settling into his new surroundings following his acquisition on loan from Argentinian powerhouse Boca Juniors earlier this week.
The 23-year-old said he is “enjoying the Galaxy, I’m enjoying the city, I’m enjoying the team and being with my teammates.”
He’s also more than likely breathing a sigh of relief following arduous and often frustrating negotiations that left Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese wondering if the deal ever would get made.
“One time or several?” he joked with a reporter when he was asked if there was a time he felt the move couldn’t be pulled off. “There’s these parks where they have these roller coasters, and I think they’re more stable.”
To say the deal was complicated is putting it mildly. It reportedly is a six-month loan that includes an option to be extended another year, followed by the possibility of purchasing Pavon outright after the 2020 season. It was financed by targeted allocation money, which means Pavon will not occupy a designated player spot. The Galaxy already have three in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan dos Santos, and Romain Alessandrini.
It was understandable, then, why Galaxy officials were thrilled to have secured the services of Pavon, who played every game for Argentina in the 2018 World Cup and has made 11 appearances for that country’s national team. He also is reunited with not only the Galaxy’s Favio Alvarez – they were members at the same youth academy in Argentina – but Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who coached the talented attacker at Boca Juniors from 2016-18. Pavon joined the Argentinian side in 2014.
“He had me in Boca, and I think he did everything for me there,” Pavon said of Barros Schelotto. “We worked really hard there, and now it’s up to me to show my level again.”
Pavon said he was ready for the challenge of a new league. He trained with the Galaxy on Thursday – “Everyone welcomed me with open arms,” he said — and could be available for spot duty in Sunday’s match against D.C. United (4:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes) at Audi Field if his P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate are received in time.
“This is a great league,” he said. “I decided to come here to win everything. There’s been a lot of great players on the Galaxy like David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and being here I want to win a lot of things and show I’m in top form.
“I’m excited to start playing.”
Ibrahimovic said he likes what he has seen so far from the team’s latest addition.
“I think it’s a big move for the club,” he said. “A great player, a young player and obviously he has been playing with the national team and Boca … obviously the coach knows him very well.
“I think he will be very effective and will be a big help for us. He’s a quality player, very fast, good with the ball, creative and able to score. He’ll be good.”
Said Barros Schelotto, “I think this is the kind of player who has to be here.”
Te Kloese called the acquisition another step in the Galaxy’s rebirth from a side that has failed to reach the MLS Cup playoffs in the last two seasons.
“We want to be living up to the history that the Galaxy has always shown to be ambitious and a winning team,” he said. “Cristian is just a part of that, but an important part.
“Apart from him being on the team I think is something that going forward shows everybody not only in the United States but around the world the Galaxy is an ambitious club.
“This is a very good step in the right direction.”
Alvarez, who joined the Galaxy in May on loan from Argentina’s Atletico Tucuman, said he was thrilled to see his old friend Pavon decide to join him on the five-time MLS Cup champions.
Alvarez traces his relationship with Pavon back to when they were teammates at the academy of Argentinian side Tallares de Cordoba.
“Honestly,” he told reporters Thursday, “I’m very happy. I’ve known him since we were kids. Hopefully it goes very well for him because I think he can help us grow as a team.
“We were missing a player with his characteristics, so he is very welcome, and hopefully he can demonstrate the quality he showed with Boca Juniors.”
Alvarez also said he hoped Pavon can adapt quickly to the rigors of Major League Soccer.
“That is really important for us,” he said. “And hopefully he will help us reach the objectives we have.”
His new environment of Southern California could take some getting used to as well, but Alvarez sounded like he will be the perfect tour guide.
“It’s a beautiful city,” he said of Los Angeles. “He just got here, and he said this is a completely new world. And honestly, it is.
“He’s going to be calmer, and he’s going to be able to live better.
“He’s going to enjoy the city because this is going to help him grow as a person. People live here differently than they do in Argentina, and he’s going to grow a lot as a player and a person as well, which I feel is most important.”
SPEAKING HIS MIND
Ibrahimovic found much to be angry about regarding last week’s 3-0 loss to Atlanta United, but the criticism didn’t have much to do with the collective performance of his teammates.
Ibrahimovic said he found it “very difficult” watching the Galaxy’s third loss in the last four games and third in a row on the road as he started in on one of his more popular topics of discussion – MLS refereeing.
“But when you have referees like that,” he said about Drew Fisher who, among other things, awarded Atlanta United a dubious penalty kick in the 71st minute. “I don’t want to be too critical, but when they are not on the level of the game, it is difficult to play the game.
“The last referee we had” – he was referring to Allen Chapman, who gave Ibrahimovic a yellow card in a 4-0 loss to Portland on July 27, resulting in Ibrahimovic’s suspension from the Atlanta match – “I didn’t have a chance to speak after the game because nobody was there. Which made it easier for me. The level he kept was too low, too low. He needs help, he needs education, he needs everything to improve and get better.
“You have a referee that said stupid things to me before he gave me a yellow card, which I don’t need to say. That is not professional. Obviously, it doesn’t keep the level.
“That’s me not being critical,” he went on. “Wait until I am real critical.”