CHESTER, Pa. – When Michael Lahoud was traded from Chivas USA to the Philadelphia Union in May, it wasn’t a pill that was easy for him to swallow.
At least not right away.
“As a player, it’s a blow to your ego,” Lahoud told MLSsoccer.com. “You ask any player in the league that’s been traded and they’ll tell you that. But a very close friend of mine told me when I was traded, ‘Well, you’re there for a reason. They wouldn’t have brought you there if they didn’t want you.’ I’ve kind of kept that in the back of my mind.”
Over the past couple of months, that reason has been made apparent.
After being shuffled in and out of the lineup and playing different positions during his early stay in Philly, Lahoud has established a firm place in the starting XI, playing as a holding midfielder alongside veteran Brian Carroll, where he’s started nine of the team’s past 10 games.
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The 26-year-old said he’s “having fun” in that role.
“I like it there for sure just because you get on the ball a lot more and you’re just in the flow of the game and in the midst of everything,” Lahoud said. “That’s where I enjoy playing in the most. Being in the middle, just having the ball – that’s why I play soccer.”
With Lahoud and Carroll defending and distributing, that allows Union manager John Hackworth to employ a three-man front line with Michael Farfan playing behind them as an attacking midfielder. It also gives the Union enough cover where the team’s fullbacks can shoot forward down the wings, as they are prone to do.
“I think our partnership in the middle has really opened up more attacking guys to do what they do,” Lahoud said.
It’s also a partnership that has helped him grow as a soccer player. Lahoud said he’s learned a lot from the veteran Carroll when it comes to keeping your composure “when things are a little crazy” and “controlling the rhythm of the game.”
Now, he just hopes he can be as successful as Carroll, who’s won two MLS Cups and had made the playoffs nine straight seasons before the streak was snapped this year.
“I’m not content, obviously,” Lahoud said. “I think we have an ambitious team and obviously being in the lineup is a good thing. But I’m here to win silverware. That’s the next step – putting that winning formula together. I’m looking forward to contributing towards that goal.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.