CARSON, Calif. – Seventeen different players made their MLS debuts for Chivas USA last year, but don’t expect the Goats to approach that number in 2014.
Only a handful of players appear to be in line to debut this upcoming season, with midfielder Thomas McNamara among the hopefuls. The 20th overall pick in January's SuperDraft earned the start in a scrimmage against the Orange County Blues of USL PRO earlier in the week, scoring the go-ahead goal midway through the first half.
Considering how inconsistent offensive production from the midfield was in Chivas USA's 2013 season, that goal bodes well for McNamara's potential.
“He’s been adapting very well,” Chivas USA head coach Wilmer Cabrera told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s not at a different level. He looks good and fits well.”
McNamara uses terms like “hard work” and “intensity” to describe his camp so far. Those are necessary traits with Carlos Alvarez, Eric Avila and Mauro Rosales favored to take up the attacking spots in the Chivas USA midfield. The 22-year-old McNamara, a product of Brown University who used his final year of collegiate eligibility at Clemson in 2013, believes he possesses qualities that could help the Goats this season.
“I bring versatility,” the rookie told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m able to play a few different positions and play a similar system in all of them.”
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Midfielders Edgar Mejía and Jorge Villafaña led Chivas USA with four assists apiece last year, but they are no longer with the club. Alvarez had three assists in 29 games and Avila had two in 28. Despite his relative inexperience, McNamara recognizes the opportunity to contribute.
“The good thing is: This is a brand new team this year,” McNamara said. “Obviously, there’s some returning guys, but as a whole, this a brand new team, and it’s a whole new season. Right now, we’re in first place with everybody else. Once the season starts, we’re going to try to keep it that way.”