Homegrown Mayén stepping in for Chivas USA

Second-year midfielder has emerged as reliable player for Goats

When Chivas USA’s Michael Lahoud was suspended for two matches after a reckless tackle on Justin Mapp in a 1-1 draw at Chicago last week, there was some concern over how the Goats would fill the hole in their lineup.

Lahoud had become a regular on the right side of the Chivas USA midfield, having made three starts and notched one assist so far this season. Who would fill his shoes for the important games against New England and Houston?

The Red-and-White found an answer to their dilemma in the form of second-year Gerson Mayen. The Los Angeles native was called into action and stepped up admirably, helping the Goats to a 4-0 win over New England last Wednesday and playing 45 minutes in the 2-0 loss to Houston on Saturday.

“He had been looking sharp in training before we played against New England,” said Chivas USA head coach Martin Vasquez after practice on Monday. “When the possibility was there, he was our guy. It’s positive for him and for us, because he responded to our expectations. Now we know that we have a guy who can give us more depth.”

The starts were Mayen’s first two of the year. He had made his 2010 season debut as a substitute in the 77th minute against Houston last month.

“Hopefully coach liked what I did,” said Mayen of his two appearances last week. “I felt pretty good. I’m just trying to keep working hard and trying to stay in the starting XI. “My confidence right now is good, but I know I can do a better job.”

Mayen’s positioning in the Chivas USA system put him in front of right back Mariano Trujillo and next to team captain Sacha Kljestan, a spot that he feels really helped him to settle into the rhythm of the games.

“Trujillo is very good with the ball and he’s been coaching me from the back,” said Mayen. “He’s an experienced player, and he’s teaching me a lot. Sacha’s been doing the same thing. He’s a young player, but he has a lot of games under his belt.”

Mayen enjoyed a breakout year as a utility player last season. Playing in both the midfield and in defense, he notched a team-leading four assists in just 12 appearances for Chivas USA in 2009.

“Offensively, I think I have good qualities,” said Mayen. “But there is still room to improve. I can get better with my touch on the ball and with my ability to go at players. I also want to keep working on my defensive skills.”

At just 21 years old, Mayen is one of the youngest players on a Chivas USA roster that is youthful to begin with. But with an impressive resume that includes a trip to the FIFA U-20 World Cup last year and a strong ability to adapt to the needs of the lineup, Mayen’s name could be one that Goats’ fans start to see more often.

“We have confidence in him because of how he responded,” said Vásquez. “He will see more time.”