CARSON, CALIF. — Laurent Courtois arrived in LA this summer to instill some European experience in an ailing Chivas USA side. Now with his team's season on the line, Courtois’ time in the trenches may yet prove decisive.
The French left winger has made only one start in six appearances since moving from Europe, and really hasn't had much of an impact on the field. Despite being considered a potential starter, he's been unable to unseat incumbent left wing Jorge Flores for a spot in the lineup.
During that one start – against Portland on August 24th – Courtois picked up a calf injury that has limited his efforts since. However, as he returns to 90-minute fitness, the Frenchman has been effective as a substitute, frequently helping to create scoring opportunities.
“I didn’t have preseason work so I’m not 100 percent of my potential right now, but we all agree for me to come in and [help],” Courtois told MLSsoccer.com. “Until now I didn’t have preseason training so I have to catch up. This is why I try to train a bit more, but I’m not 100 percent yet.
"After the Portland game, I was bothered by a calf injury so I couldn’t train. So we agreed to work step by step and see when I’m fit, and that will be a start for me.”
Soft spoken with the media, Courtois is vocal on the training ground, looking to play a leadership role for his young teammates. With experience playing in leagues in England, Spain and France, he is not afraid to offer his assessment of Chivas’ issues during their three game losing streak - particularly their difficulty maintaining possession.
“To be fair, from the moment that I [got] here, we have the same strengths and the same weaknesses. Until now, the other teams couldn’t use those weaknesses, but I would say that they can [now],” Courtois said. “When we are not switched on, we give up the ball and there are chances for the other team, which can’t happen. You cannot give up a goal every time that you lose the ball.”
Although there are issues for Chivas to deal with coming down the home stretch, Courtois sees a flicker of hope for the struggling team.
“We have quality, we have technique, we work well, we have everything to do it well, but we have to think a bit more,” Courtois said. “We have to think about what can happen in case we lose the ball and this is how we have to improve.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.