Despite loss, Nigel Reo-Coker impressive in Chivas USA debut

CARSON, Calif. -- If there was any timidity while taking the pitch with his new team Sunday, midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker sure didn’t show it.

The veteran made his Chivas USA debut in a losing effort against the LA Galaxy, but certainly caught the attention of head coach Wilmer Cabrera, who was intrigued enough by Reo-Coker to send top playmaker Mauro Rosales to the Vancouver Whitecaps last month.

Reo-Coker was anything but shy around his new teammates Sunday, often directing traffic with his voice and serving as a link at the center of Chivas USA’s formation.

“That’s why we brought him here,” Cabrera told reporters following the 3-0 loss. “He’s a leader and a player with experience.”

The next step for Reo-Coker is to find rhythm, Cabrera said, and the only way to do that is by playing consistently -- something he wasn’t doing in Vancouver. Reo-Coker’s debut was his first appearance since July 27 and first 90-minute showing since June 28.

“It’s nice to be back and play my first game in a long time,” Reo-Coker told MLSsoccer.com. “There was a lot of traveling behind closed doors. … I just needed that one game. We played well as a team, and we can take a lot of positives from that. We played some really good football, so now we just need to continue to believe in ourselves and gain confidence.”

The Rojiblancos must also find a suitable replacement for Rosales, who led the club with eight assists at the time of his departure. Reo-Coker had a season-high two shots, but the Goats failed to score for the sixth consecutive game, extending their scoreless drought to 546 consecutive minutes.

“He has a lot of experience and has traveled a long road,” forward Erick “Cubo” Torres said of Reo-Coker. “He never stops communicating. Obviously he’s got to get to know us, but he should help us tremendously as we finish this season.”

Galaxy manager Bruce Arena told reporters he was impressed with the Goats’ new acquisition, saying Chivas USA “are fortunate to have him.”

Landon Donovan, meanwhile, said he’s always thought highly of Reo-Coker.

“I thought he was a good player in England,” Donovan told reporters. “I thought he was a good player in Vancouver. I was a little surprised that he didn’t play more there. He helps [Chivas USA]. He moves well, he’s pretty dynamic when he has the ball, he’s a good passer, he’s a good defender and he has good leadership qualities. That’s why I think he’s a good pickup for them.”