Chijindu hoping to break into First XI

Forward says versatility will earn him a place in starting lineup

Chijindu closeup

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

It’s a new season for Chivas USA striker Chukwudi Chijindu. He’s
confident, he’s healthy and he’s ready to help the Red-and-White make a
run at the 2010 playoffs.

The second-year Fontana, Calif.
native has featured in both of Chivas USA’s games this season as a late
substitute, but has his sights set on a place in the starting XI. And
if he continues to be as potentially dangerous in the attacking third
as he has been thus far, it might not be too long before his name is on
the team sheet.

“I feel good about my play,” said Chijindu
after practice on Tuesday morning. “I came into this preseason pretty
confident. I was hampered with injury last season and that slowed me
down, but now my legs are back under me and I feel like whenever the
coaches call my name, I’ll be ready to help the team in any way I can.”

Chijindu joined Chivas USA on April 3 of last year after
impressing during the opening months of the season. He scored one goal
and notched one assist in eleven appearances for the Red-and-White in
2009, and is relying on the experience of his rookie year to make him
stronger in his sophomore MLS season.

“I learned a lot from
my first year,” he said. “I learned that, at any given time, you can be
called and thrown into the fire, and you have to be ready for that. If
you’re not playing in the beginning, you have to still be ready because
there are injuries and different tournaments that might get you put in.
I learned that last year and I’ve changed my mindset in terms of just
being ready at any time.”

While he’s happy with the
contribution he’s made so far, Chijindu makes no secret of his desire
to earn a starting nod for Chivas USA. He’s been doing some extra
running after practices and is committed to making the required effort
to break into the first team.

“I believe I have the ability
to be a first-team player,” said Chijindu. “As long as I continue to
believe that, I think it’s only a matter of time before it happens for
me. I respect the coaches' decision to put their first XI out there,
but at the same time, I want to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully
I’ll break into that first XI.”

While Chijindu has been a
striker in both his appearances this season, he was used in more of a
utility role last year. He often saw time in the midfield in 2009, even
earning a starting nod as the Red-and-White’s left midfielder against
New England on July 19th.

He believes his versatility will help him as he moves forward in 2010.

“If they need me to be a strong target player and hold the ball, I
think I have the capabilities of doing that,” he said. “If they need me
to stretch the field, I have the pace to do that, and if they need me
to go at somebody one-on-one, I can do that as well. I have a lot of
weapons and it’s just up to me to utilize them to the best of my

Chivas USA will continue to look for its first goal
of the season when the team takes on New York this Saturday at The Home
Depot Center. It’s a game that Chijindu believes is well within reach
for the Red-and-White.

“We are capable of getting the
result,” he said. “We’re 0-2, but I think both those games could have
ended differently. Just as quick as we’re 0-2, we could have been 2-0.
I think we’ll be fine.”