Chivas USA have shown this season that they are major players for a playoff berth, and part of the club’s resurgence has been the leadership of veteran midfielder Simon Elliott.
Signed during the offseason, Elliott has made an immediate impact for the Rojiblancos in his first season with the club. Manning the top of head coach Robin Fraser’s midfield triangle, the 37-year-old New Zealander has been instrumental managing the midfield.
Anchored in front of the defense, Elliott is able to sit back and focus on defense as well as helping the Chivas USA send attackers forward with his crisp distribution.
“He’s that veteran you need in the middle of the field,” Chivas USA midfielder Nick LaBrocca told MLSsoccer.com. “He helps calm the game down because he plays simple and he’s never really frazzled, so that helps everyone and it trickles down through the team.”
LaBrocca, who has shined this season with seven goals for Chivas and his first-ever MLS All-Star nod, is just one beneficiaries of Elliott’s presence. With Elliott sending in passes forward, LaBrocca has been able to find space behind defenses and create scoring opportunities for himself or others.
Look no further than a the Goats’ 3-2 win over New England Revolution last weekend, when a lofted pass by Elliott to LaBrocca allowed the attacking midfielder to find space to send in a cross to Alejandro Moreno, who was able to finish the effort.
While Elliott has added a great of leadership to the Rojiblancos during games, where the World Cup veteran truly shares his pearls of wisdom is on the training pitch. During Chivas USA practices, Elliott can frequently be seen sharing words with younger midfielders like LaBrocca as well as second-year players Ben Zemanski and Blair Gavin.
“At this club, you need to bring it every day and be prepared to train and train hard as well as intelligently every day,” Elliott said. “There are no shortcuts, which is part of building a culture and an environment then not letting anyone from the outside interrupt that environment.
“On the pitch, it’s helping with where we win the ball and shape on pressure as well as where we try to win the ball, we’re trying to move and find people early and often,” Elliott said.
Although he was subbed out in the 76th minute of the victory over New England with an apparent knock, expect Elliott to be at his familiar position in midfield for Chivas USA during their match against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday (4 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
LaBrocca, for one, is glad Chivas USA will not be without their master motivator as the club looks to earn their second straight victory.
“He’s a little bit of everything; he motivates and organizes on the field then plays in practice the same way,” LaBrocca added. “If you need him to do anything, then he’ll do it all for us.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @adamserrano