Midfield chess game gets complicated for LaBrocca, Chivas

CARSON, Calif. – Throughout the offseason, Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made a number of moves to revamp his team’s offense.

So far, nothing has worked.

The Rojiblancos are one of three teams who still haven’t scored through two games, thanks to a pair of 1-0 shutout losses at home against the Houston Dynamo and Vancouver Whitecaps.

“We’ve just been missing that final link or click that we had last year with our finishing, but we’re right there, so there’s no panic here and we’re going to get it,” midfielder Nick LaBrocca told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “Our offense will come along and as soon as we get hot, we’ll be able to take these specific things that we’ve been working on and carry them through the rest of the season.”

One possible reason for Chivas’ recent struggles up front could be the added focus that opposing clubs are placing on LaBrocca. The 27-year-old midfielder enjoyed the finest season of his career in 2011, leading the club in scoring with eight goals and adding six assists en route to his first career All-Star Game appearance.

During the club’s first pair of matches this season, shutting down LaBrocca was a key aspect of the gameplans for both Houston and Vancouver. He was tackled and dispossessed of the ball 12 times in both matches thanks to added attention, but LaBrocca insisted it’s not because teams seek him out as the star.

CHALKBOARD: Check out Nick LaBrocca's stats against Vancouver

“I think it’s because now I’m in that spot so teams have gotten to see, and now it’s up to me to disguise it or to change it and just be a little bit more dynamic to the point where I can be just as effective so I can help the team,” he said.

As LaBrocca works to adapt his game to deal with the increased pressure from opposing defenses, he insists that he’s up to the task. He’ll get his first opportunity on Saturday night, when the Goats take on Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“It makes you think and it turns the match into more of a chess game, and those are the games that I enjoy the most,” LaBrocca said. “Plus, there’s always motivation coming from many different aspects, I see it as a challenge and one that I’m excited to take on.”

Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at adam.m.serrano@gmail.com.