El Salvador national team midfielder RICHIE MENJIVAR has had quite the year so far – and it’s only February. He has already featured four times for his senior national team, and as the club announced Friday, he has signed a contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks, pending USSF approval.
“We’re ecstatic about Richie joining the club because he is a tremendous player with incredible potential and abilities,” said Silverbacks Technical Director ERIC WYNALDA. “I would encourage the fans to come out and see him while they can because a player of this caliber won’t go unnoticed.”
Menjivar, who was born in Panorama City, Calif., comes to the Silverbacks on loan from Salvadoran side Turín FC. He previously played under Wynalda at Cal FC before signing with Danish side Blokhus FC in 2012. The 5-foot-8 defensive midfielder represented the U.S. at the U-18 level in 2008 before being called into El Salvador’s Olympic qualifying squad in 2012.
In a game American soccer fans would love to forget, Menjivar started and went 90 minutes in El Salvador’s 3-3 draw against the U.S. – a result that knocked the Americans out of the 2012 Olympics in London. Earlier in the Olympic qualifying tournament, Menjivar was on the score sheet against Cuba, contributing a goal in a 4-0 win over Cuba.
With strong performances at the youth level, El Salvador National Team Head Coach Agustín Castillo took notice, and called Menjivar into the senior camp ahead of the January CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers. Starting all four games against Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize, Menjivar helped “La Selecta” earn a third-place finish and qualify for the 2013 Gold Cup. Atlanta will be one of the cities hosting a Gold Cup game this summer.
“The fact that we can add someone of Richie’s quality speaks volumes about the Silverbacks and also the league,” said Silverbacks Head Coach BRIAN HAYNES. “He is going to be a key leader for us on the field, and I think he’ll bring out the best in his teammates as well. We were looking for a player like Richie and I’m glad to say we found him.”
Before his professional and international endeavors, Menjivar played college soccer in the U.S. He started his college career at the University of Evansville in 2008 and would go on to play two seasons for the Purple Aces. He was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team in 2008, and was second on the team in assists that season. Menjivar then transferred to Cal-State Bakersfield to play the final two seasons of his college career.
Roadrunners Assistant Coach Keith Costigan, also a FOX Soccer analyst, told his fellow pundit Wynalda about Menjivar. Wynalda then recruited Menjivar to be a part of his Cal FC squad for the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Menjivar starred for Cal FC during their Cup run, leading them to the fourth round – a run that featured wins over a pair of professional sides, the Wilmington Hammerheads of USL and the Portland Timbers of MLS.
Menjivar, who is expected to patrol the defensive midfield for the Silverbacks, will join his new teammates in Atlanta when the club breaks training camp in early March. The Silverbacks kick off the 2013 season on April 13 when they host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Atlanta Silverbacks Park.