CARSON -- Blair Gavin hopes he has turned a corner on a longstanding hamstring problem after missing a good deal of preseason and Chivas USA's first three Major League Soccer games this year.
He played the second half in an unannounced friendly Thursday against Thousand Oaks-based fourth-division club FC Hasental, converting a penalty kick in a 5-0 victory at Home Depot Center's Track and Field Stadium.
“I'm getting there,” said Gavin, a third-year midfielder with exceptional skill and ideas who has battled hamstring injuries since his rookie year with the Goats. “It's a process, as usual with most injuries, but it's coming along, getting better. It's going in the right direction.”
Gavin could be available for Sunday's game vs. early Eastern Conference leader Sporting Kansas City at Home Depot Center, but likelier will be in coach Robin Fraser's plans for Monday's MLS Reserve League opener against the Galaxy. He's been out since mid-February and missed eight games before getting a few minutes in the March 18 friendly against UC Riverside. Thursday's game was just his fifth game appearance this year for the Goats.
The constant injuries are trying, but Gavin says he's encouraged by his progress and how strategies developed by the training staff, to deal with physiological issues, has helped him.
“I love soccer, so [rehabbing injuries] is the things you've got to do,” he said. “Unfortunately, I've been injured for a long time, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I do the right things so it it will prevent it from happening, but if it happens, then so be it, and I've got to work at it.”
Fraser said the club has been “very mindful of Blair and his history in his recovery” as it works to “do everything we can to eliminate this happening again.”
Gavin was happy to be in a game situation, but he acknowledged a “lot of stray touches that can be better. Just got to get my sharpness back. That comes with games, comes with practices. When you're off for four or five weeks, your touch isn't exactly where you want it to be.”
Fraser praised Gavin's “good ideas, good decisions when to keep it, when to push the pace a little bit” and noted that “when he's healthy, he puts himself into [lineup] contention right away.”
HIGHLIGHTS: Victor Manuel Chavez, one of the four Mexican youngsters in camp from the Sensifut academy in Torreon, scored twice in the victory, and Gerardo Daniel Torres also saw action.
“I thought both guys did well,” Fraser said. “They showed a good sense of soccer, a great sense of timing: when to show up and get into good spots.”
Trialist Mario Ledesma (Woodland Hills/El Camino Real HS) and former Chivas Academy defender Carlos Torres, from Compton, also saw action for the Goats, who also beat Hasental, 5-0, on Feb. 3.
Fraser used close to a first-choice lineup in the first half, but it was the second-half lineup that netted all five goals. Ledesma and Casey Townsend also scored for Chivas.
WORTH NOTING: New Zealander midfielder Simon Elliott, 37, who apparently retired after Chivas did not pick up his option in December, has joined the technical staff as technical director and head scout and will be working closely with Fraser and his staff. ... Alejandro Moreno, a longtime forward who has played exclusively in midfield this year, played as the lone striker in the first half. … Defender Heath Pearce and wingers Ryan Smith and Laurent Courtois were held out of action. Courtois is dealing with a calf issue. ... Marco Delgado is unlikely to sign a Home Grown Player contract until the U.S. under-18 national team camp at HDC, which he's participating in, ends this weekend.
Home Depot Center Track and Field Stadium (Carson)
Chivas USA 5, FC Hasental (NPSL) 0
C -- Victor Chavez 50
C -- Blair Gavin pen. 55
C -- Mario Ledesma 62
C -- Victor Chavez 72
C -- Casey Townsend 86
Chivas USA lineup: Dan Kennedy (Tim Melia, 46); James Riley (Carlos Torres, 46), John Alexander Valencia (Scott Gordon, 46), Rauwshan McKenzie (David Junior Lopes, 46), Ante Jazic (Jorge Villafaña, 46); Oswaldo Minda (Peter Vagenas, 46), Ben Zemanski (Blair Gavin, 46); Cesar Romero (Mario Ledesma, 46), Nick LaBrocca (Victor Manuel Chavez, 46), Miller Bolaños (Gerardo Daniel Torres, 46); Alejandro Moreno (Casey Townsend, 46).
Yellow cards: None.
Referee: Jesus Cisneros. Att.: c. 25.