Chivas USA's Zizzo feels good over debut

"We have to flip the switch now," MF says of Goats' long odds

Sal Zizzo

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CARSON, Calif. – It took exactly a month since Chivas USA acquired him, but Sal Zizzo finally made his MLS debut last weekend at Pizza Hut Park.

The 23-year-old replaced Ante Jazic in the 82nd minute of the Goats’ 1-0 loss to FC Dallas. He was pushed forward after his introduction, taking up a position on the left flank.

“It was great,” Zizzo told about his debut. “I hadn’t played in eight months. It had been a while since I had been on the field and just getting back and getting good runs in and being there with the crowd felt good.”

A native of San Diego, Zizzo spent two years at UCLA before leaving the Bruins to join German side Hannover 96. His time in Europe was marred by frequent injury, including an ACL tear in his final year with the club.

“Even with the knee injury, I felt like I came back just as strong,” Zizzo said. “I felt good with the ball. I still feel like I had my speed. I just have to keep going. The coach realizes that. I’m going to take my time and build game by game.”

While last Saturday’s match was his first in MLS, Zizzo insists his time in Germany has left him well-equipped for the physical and fast style of league play in America.

“The level of play was what I thought it would be,” he said. “We train pretty hard; we try to make it game-realistic. With my adrenaline going, I felt like I was a little bit faster. It was good.”

Zizzo’s debut was televised nationally on Fox Soccer Channel, giving his friends and family a chance to see him don the Red-and-White stripes for the first time.

“All my friends and family watched the game,” he said with a smile. “I got some messages from people afterwards; just congrats on my first game back.”

Zizzo will wear the No. 15 shirt for Chivas USA this season, replacing Red-and-White legend Jesse Marsch.

“When I got here, there was Sacha [Kljestan]’s number [16] and this number,” said Zizzo of his selection. “I was No. 15 for the first two years with Hannover and with the U-20 National Team, so I felt like I’d go with 15, even though Sacha was telling me to take No. 16.”

With a third of the season still to play, Zizzo has the potential to become an important part of Chivas USA’s final playoff push. The Goats are seeking a fifth consecutive postseason appearance.

“We have to flip the switch now,” said Zizzo. “We have to go 100 miles per hour for every game.”