Chivas' young guns working hard in offseason

Zemanski, Lahoud staying in shape to be ready for January's camp

Chivas USA may be on official hiatus until after the Christmas holidays, but at least two of the team’s young players are staying sharp in the offseason.

Michal Lahoud and Ben Zemanski, who have just finished their second and first years with the Goats, respectively, have both returned home and are each working through their own postseason regimen to be sure they’re ready for camp in January.

Breakout rookie Ben Zemanski went home to Akron, Ohio, where he has met up with some old friends to help keep him in shape.

“I’ve been going up to [the University of] Akron and training with them a little bit,” Zemanski said. "I have a lot of friends still on the team and I’m very close to Caleb [Porter, head coach] as well.”

Zemanski was taken 45th overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft last January, and enjoyed 22 appearances in his debut season with Chivas USA. He has shown real promise and could grow into a formidable defensive presence in the midfield.

“I’m working on things that I’m already good at and trying to get better at those, and also working on things that I can improve,” he said of his offseason training. “I’m trying to get better as an individual so that I can contribute to the team.”

Also traveling to the East Coast was Lahoud, who spent much of his Thanksgiving break in the Washington area with his family. After a rigorous campaign that saw him log more than 1,600 minutes in 23 matches, his first order of business was to give his body a much-needed break.

“Last year, when the season ended, I never really gave my body a rest,” Lahoud told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “One of the many things I’ve learned this year is that you have to take care of your body. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is rest.”

Once December arrived, however, Lahoud was right back to work. He has enjoyed a few pickup games with friends and has started running to get back into shape.

“Whenever I can, I go and play with my childhood friends,” he said. “We knock a ball around and have some fun. We play the game like it was meant to be played – for the fun of it. And for me, I think that you can always do some running – no matter who you are.”

Lahoud will return to his home in Los Angeles before Christmas to resume full-scale workouts and training at a high-level. The 24-year-old has every intention of showing up to preseason fully prepared to help overturn Chivas USA’s 2010 misfortunes.

“I’m coming back to LA to get into my fitness regimen and get into some technical ball work stuff,” Lahoud said. “I want to get back into the mind set and getting ready for preseason. Next year is a huge year. I have high expectations of myself as a player and even higher expectations for the team to get back to the competitive level that we’re accustomed to.”

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