CARSON, Calif. — Hamstring problems have plagued Chivas USA midfielder Blair Gavin for much of his young MLS career, causing him to miss considerable action for the Rojiblancos. After undergoing yet another lengthy rehabilitation, the 10th overall pick in the 2010 SuperDraft is hopeful that his injury woes are behind him.
Gavin returned to the field last Saturday in Chivas USA’s 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers, coming on in the 87th minute for his first game action since March 26. To finally feel the grass under his feet after nearly a two-and-a-half-month layoff was a sweet moment.
“I was happy to be out there on the field with the guys,” Gavin told MLSsoccer.com. “Just being in the 18 was a big accomplishment for me. Now I’m just trying to get my skills and my touch back to where they were.”
Before picking up a hamstring injury last July, Gavin was having a Rookie of the Year-caliber campaign, scoring three goals and providing the creative spark for the Goats. He has since been hampered by injury setbacks, repeatedly re-injuring the same left hamstring that cost him his rookie season.
The former University of Akron midfielder readily admits that he rushed back too soon from injury in the past, but has sought to avoid those issues with slow and steady rehabilitation.
Whether it be training with the reserves or going to see a hamstring specialist in Germany, it has been a process that is difficult for the fiercely competitive Gavin. Through it all, however, he remains motivated that he can return to form.
“There’s been a lot of rehab and it has been tough at times, but this is what I live for and this is what I want to do,” Gavin said. “At the end of the day, that’s why you keep going. I have had a lot of injuries, but I’m going to put that behind me and keep working hard.”
Gavin is one of several Chivas USA players who are returning to action after going on the injury list at the start of the season.
He was joined on the game-day roster by Paulo Nagamura, Seth Owusu and Tristan Bowen, each having missed considerable time at the outset of the season. With the team approaching the summer months — which usually take a heavy toll on MLS rosters — the belief in the Chivas USA locker room is that with the team returning to full strength, a run up the table is a definite possibility.
“It’s important to be competitive in this league, you need to have all your assets at your disposal and certainly, to this point, we’ve not had that,” said head coach Robin Fraser. “But we’re starting to get healthy and having more choices, [which] leads to competition and us being better and stronger.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano