Chivas USA's Gavin proves his versatility
CARSON, Calif. – When Blair Gavin first arrived at Chivas USA’s preseason training camp, he described himself as a versatile player who was willing to play whatever position was required of him. Last Saturday, his statement was put to the test.
Gavin, normally a holding midfielder, was pushed forward and converted into a second striker for the Goats’ game against Real Salt Lake. And while the results weren’t perfect, the 22-year-old rookie certainly proved that he’s versatile.
“It’s a totally different mind set, but I think I have the abilities to play in that position if need be,” said Gavin after Chivas USA training on Wednesday. “It was difficult, but I came out in the second half and found my feet a bit more.”
The start was Gavin’s ninth of the season, but his first outside of central midfield. He came out timidly at first, struggling to find a rhythm in his new position.
“In the first half, his role wasn’t clear to him,” said Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez. “He was too concerned with defending instead of being our playmaker or our second forward.”
Gavin himself admits to feeling a bit lost in the first 45 minutes.
“It was a difficult first half,” he said. “I was over-thinking, not exactly sure what position to be in. I have to be smarter. If I can outsmart defenders with smart runs and technical passes, I should be fine.”
After a pick-me-up from the coaches during halftime, Gavin was much more efficient in the second half, threading a few dangerous passes to his teammates and notching some shots on goal.
“At halftime, we told him to just find the ball, move and play like he would if he were in his normal role, and he did better,” said Vásquez. “If we are to play him there again, he’s going to have a better idea of what we’re expecting.”
With Chivas USA captain Sacha Kljestan back in training after missing the cut for the US 23-man World Cup roster, it’s likely that Gavin will move back to his central midfield position. But the Akron alumnus has no plans to stop working on his versatility as the season marches on.
“I want to be able to play and contribute wherever the coaches need me,” said Gavin. “So I’m going to keep working hard on learning every position that I can.”