CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA have been seeking a catalyst to help the club emerge from its recent doldrums.
During the Rojiblancos’ 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night, it was energetic midfielder Nick LaBrocca, who made the difference in bringing an end to the team’s three-game losing streak.
LaBrocca was the engine for the Goats, consistently creating opportunities in attack throughout the match for himself and his teammates. His shot that struck the crossbar in the early stages was a precursor to Chivas USA’s lone goal less than a minute into the second half also on a long-distance shot. LaBrocca's laser from 20 yards out deflected off the crossbar and into the net for the 1-1 tie. The goal was his fourth of a season which has seen him make a steady rise into All-Star consideration.
Following the match, Chivas head coach Robin Fraser admitted that the LaBrocca has carried his club this season.
“Nick is such a talented player with a great soccer mind and when you put that together with a great engine and is a big part of when we play well, a part of our attack,” Fraser told reporters after the match. “He’s very good at finding dangerous positions for himself and, obviously, he’s technically very good around the goal.”
After struggling to deal with Chicago’s pace during the first half, particularly the bursts of speed from goal scorer Dominic Oduro, it was up to the Rojiblancos’ energy guy to motivate his club. LaBrocca was able ignite his squad with the goal to open the second half, which clearly boosted Chivas. Following the comeback strike, Chivas USA appeared far more confident in front of net and appeared the more dangerous side in search of the potential go-ahead goal.
“We needed a high energy start and it was big for us to get that self-belief that we could take it to another level,” LaBrocca said after the match. “But unfortunately, we were unable to get the winner.”
Although the Rojiblancos are still sitting on 18 points, the club has three home games left in the month of July to get back into the playoff chase. Chivas USA and LaBrocca will be forced to get right back to work with a short week and a date against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday.
For the spirited No. 10, Chivas USA remain a club that is not too far off from contending, especially based on their comeback on Saturday night.
“Hopefully this is a good sign for us to turn the table a little bit and fix those final pieces that need some polishing,” LaBrocca said after Saturday night’s draw. “I think all we need is a little hot streak and we’re right back in it and then no one will want to play us because we are a strong team. But we are still growing as a team and there are still things that we can get better at.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano