Los Angeles Soccer: Victor Manuel Chavez
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.
CARSON -- Chivas USA's attacking troubles might not be so distinct had Michael Lahoud not strained his right hamstring two days before its Major League Soccer opener.
The fourth-year midfielder had a new job, on the right flank in a new 4-2-3-1 alignment that emphasized wing play in ways the Goats haven't, and was coming off an excellent preseason.
He was sprinting and working with the ball Wednesday morning for the first time since he was hurt in training three weeks ago, and he hopes to be back on the field by the April 7 game at Portland or the following week at Toronto FC.
“For sure, [I'm] close,” Lahoud said after the training session at Home Depot Center. “Just to be able to come out and do a little bit of sprinting, to be involved in some of the drills, to pass the ball … to put these studs back on, it does a wonder for your mind and your sanity.”
Robin Fraser was pleased to see him doing more.
“It's good to see Michael come out and do some ball work,” Chivas' coach said. “He's on the mend.”