For most MLS rookies, stepping onto the pitch at Houston’s Robertson Stadium is likely a daunting task. Especially if it’s the first time you’ve ever played in a professional match and your team is down 2-0 to the Dynamo.
But if you’re Chivas USA first-year midfielder Ben Zemanski, it’s just another day at the office.
“I wasn’t nervous,” said Zemanski of his debut last Saturday. “I was just focused on getting in and trying to help the team come back from a 2-0 deficit. I was only thinking about ways I could try to help out.”
Zemanski saw his the first MLS minutes in Chivas USA’s 3-0 loss to Houston last Saturday, coming on as a halftime substitute to relieve striker Maicon Santos.
“I’m really grateful to have made my MLS debut,” said Zemanski. “But it’s disappointing to have it spoiled with a loss.”
Chivas USA struggled to keep up with the Dynamo’s physical play and experience on Saturday afternoon, falling behind by two goals within the game’s first 20 minutes. Zemanski and teammate Jorge Flores were introduced at halftime, but couldn’t inspire the Red-and-White to a first-ever victory in Houston.
“I thought I played alright, but there’s still room for improvement,” said Zemanski. “I won some balls and helped push the tempo pretty well. It was a tough game to go into, but I just have to keep working hard and putting my best foot forward.”
Zemanski’s halftime introduction was the first time he had been used as a substitute in more than two years. The 21-year-old started every game of both his junior and senior years at the University of Akron before getting drafted 47th overall in this year’s MLS SuperDraft.
“I don’t think the mindset is any different,” said Zemanski of the difference between starting and subbing on. “Whenever the coach calls your name, you have to be ready to come in and help your team out.”
While he is certainly proud to have made his debut, Zemanski will return to practice this week with one thing on his mind: getting a win against San Jose on Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
“I want to do whatever I can to contribute to this team and get us out of this 1-3 hole,” Zemanski said. “I just have to keep my head down and keeping working.”