NEW YORK — As the media members flocked to the likes of Tim Ream, Shalrie Joseph and Kyle Beckerman following the MLS All-Stars’ first workout here on Monday, Nick LaBrocca fielded all the questions he needed to before deftly disappearing, bound for the parking lot.
And that escape plan seemed to suit LaBrocca, the soft-spoken midfielder from Chivas USA who is on the big stage for the first time in his career.
LaBrocca, 25, was rescued from a sinking ship in March, sent via trade from Toronto FC to a renovated Chivas USA side in need of a playmaker and a pulse. It’s been the career break every player looks for, and it’s come largely under the radar for most mainstream fans who think David Beckham’s team is the only one that calls Los Angeles home.
“It’s a trip,” LaBrocca said of his first All-Star experience, penciled into the game-day roster with the likes of Beckham and Thierry Henry. “You look around at some of the faces, there are some great players out here.”
And it’s impossible to argue LaBrocca doesn’t belong. He’s been the catalyst for a Chivas USA team that has shown flashes of what they’re capable of almost under the cover of darkness this season, earning 27 points before the All-Star break and a viable chance at making the playoffs after missing out last season.
LaBrocca has been at the center of it all, quietly plugging away at a career year. He’s scored six goals this season after amassing just five in his first your years in the league combined, numbers that indicate he’s easily the breakout star of this MLS All-Star team.
Even if he doesn’t necessarily want to be.
“There are a lot of underrated players at Chivas USA, and I mesh well with that,” LaBrocca said. “That’s made my transition so much easier. It helps everyone grow. You can’t rely on that one alpha dog to guide you; everyone together has to step up and be a leader more than he’s used to.”
LaBrocca certainly isn’t the leader on this All-Star team, but he’s more than comfortable with the roll of role player. Unfortunately, it might be his last chance to play the part.
“It would be nice to go in there and show what I can do,” LaBrocca said. “I’ll try and reflect on everything that’s happened at the end of the year, but so far, so good.”