Cameroonian forward Charles Eloundou arrived in Colorado Wednesday night. On Thursday the 18-year-old trained with the club for the first time, ending a nine-month process from when he was acquired to actually joining the team.
Colorado Rapids Technical Director Paul Bravo talked with ColoradoRapids.com about the situation:
How did it come about that Charles has arrived in Denver?
"We’ve just been working on this for a long time, and nobody knew when the exact date would be that he would arrive in Colorado. We were confident that he was going to end up here at some point. MLS and his representatives were working to sort out some of the red tape that was slowing down the process, and we were finally able to make it work. It’s an exciting moment for the club, since he’s a talented young player with a lot of potential, and it’s great to see him here at the stadium."
What changed recently that made him get here now?
"It’s just that we were finally able to get through the process on the ground in Cameroon. The timing with their season ending, while it isn’t ideal for us, was something that made it a little easier for all the different parties to get things to work out."
Did we know in advance about his arrival?
"We’ve been pushing this for some time now, and it’s been an ongoing exercise. His representatives recently went to Cameroon and sorted everything out, and were able to get him on a plane to the U.S. We don’t know too much about the details, but I got a call last week saying that it was likely he’d be getting to Washington D.C. over the weekend, and once that was confirmed and he arrived in the U.S., that’s when we were able to work on getting him here to Denver. His agency is based in D.C. and his actual representative is based in Charlotte, which is why that was his first stop."
What are the next steps now that he’s here in Denver?
"Right now the key is to evaluate his fitness, where he is physically, and find the appropriate way to help him build up. He’s not eligible to play with the first team, and he’s a year too old to play with our Under-18’s. But he can train with them, if we need or want him to. He could also just jump right in with the first team. But figuring that out is a process and we need to do that first. We’ve got a group now that is at the end of their season fitness-wise, and finding the right way to work him into the group is important. How he joins and participates with the group is something that is ultimately up to Oscar."
Will he stay in Denver or in the U.S. during the offseason?
"I don’t believe he will travel back to Cameroon in the offseason, but just shy of 19 years old and we have to keep in mind things like homesickness. Another reason he could go back is to participate with the national team. But the likelihood is that he spends the offseason between here and the Charlotte area, to get used to the country and be ready for next preseason."
Will he be on the Rapids roster in 2014?
"I expect him to be a part of the Rapids in 2014, but we have to go through all the normal processes like we do for all international players. We’ll have to get his international transfer certificate (ITC), get the proper visas; these are always the challenges. But it’s certainly our goal to work with MLS to have him ready for the 2014 season."
Who will be helping him acclimate to his new city?
"Danny Mwanga and Stew Ceus are our players who speak French, so they’ll be able to help. But we also have been in contact with people here in Denver who are part of the African community that might be able to help with some of the off-field stuff."
Why did you continue working to bring him to the Rapids?
"Ultimately, what we’ve heard and seen is that he’s a dynamic, young, exciting player, with a lot of skill that can help our offense. While the trouble getting him here was disappointing, ultimately we’re happy to have him and eager to help him grow and develop as a player. It’s actually great that he’s here now because it gives him more time to get to know our club, the culture here in Denver, even things like the weather. We’re happy he’s here at the club."