Before last week, Chivas USA rookie Blair Gavin had never played in a professional soccer game. He had never had his name in the starting lineup on the team sheet, had never walked out of the tunnel to thousands of roaring fans and had never battled against MLS competition for 90 minutes
But last Thursday night, he did all that. And he did it in a SuperClásico, no less.
“It was extremely exciting, especially with the big crowd,” said Gavin after Chivas’ 2-0 defeat to the in-stadium rival Galaxy. “Tough way to end up for my first game, but I know that we play a good brand of football, and it’s going to come. It was a lot of fun.”
Gavin played the whole game against Los Angeles, often supporting Sacha Kljestan and Marcelo Saragosa in the middle of the field. The young holding midfielder looked a bit nervous in the first 45 minutes, dropping a few passes here and there, but was much steadier during the second half.
“The first time you come out on the field and see all the fans roaring, you get a little amped up,” said Gavin. “But you have to find the time to relax, clam yourself, and then just play.”
“Overall, I thought I did pretty well,” he continued. “I still have a lot of improvements to make, but I’m proud of the way the guys kept fighting until the end.”
Gavin was drafted 10th overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. The University of Akron alumn had scored five goals and added three assists in his third and final year at the school, helping lead the team to a 23-1-1 record and a spot in the College Cup final last December.
He has settled in nicely with Chivas USA and is pleased with the team’s progress under new head coach Martín Vásquez.
“We train well, we play well,” said Gavin. “The goals are going to fall. We’ve had some great opportunities, we’ve just been unlucky.”
With a strong performance in his debut, Gavin will likely see more minutes on the pitch in Chivas USA’s game against the New York Red Bulls next Saturday, April 10, at the Home Depot Center.
“I have to match my intensity, or even raise it,” said Gavin of his goals for the next game. “I have to complete my passes and continue to get more confident in what I’m doing. If I keep working hard, winning balls, and helping other people, I’ll be fine.