Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
BY ADAM SERRANO
After the departure of veteran midfielders Jesse Marsch and Paulo Nagumura, Chivas USA was in dire need of a pair of strong midfielders to fortify the club in the middle of the park.
Enter Ben Zemanski and Blair Gavin (pictured), a pair of young "Halo"-playing, 21-year-old midfielders from Akron University. Fresh off a very successful career with the Zips, the pair is unburdened by the responsibility of replacing a pair of Chivas USA stalwarts.
"The players from the past were very exceptional, but we're just trying to make our own mark here," said Gavin. "They've done very well and now we're going to do our own thing to help Chivas get wins."
Gavin and Zemanski come to the Red and White side of Los Angeles after an impressive career with Akron. The midfielders lined up beside one another for the Zips for three years. They enjoyed their best year together in 2009 when they served as co-captains during the Zips 23-1-1 season and helped Akron reach the NCAA Final. Drafted by Chivas USA with the 10th and 45th overall picks respectively, the pair have immediately made their mark on the Rojiblancos.
Last Saturday against a red hot San Jose Earthquakes side, the duo that has been christened the "Killer B's" by Chivas USA fans, started together once more in the center of the park. For 90 minutes, the pair displayed the toughness and passing flair that was common place at Akron and were instrumental in leading the Rojiblancos to a 3-2 victory.
In the victory against San Jose, Zemanski earned his very first start for the Rojiblancos. While many rookies struggle in their first taste of MLS action, the former Akron standout was at ease with Gavin lined up beside him.
"It felt comfortable, we've played together for four years now and have been side by side for so long," said Zemanski. "It was just comforting seeing a familiar face across from me and being out on the field together again."
The former Akron standouts will need to continue their successful partnership if Martin Vasquez's club is to survive a grueling seven day road trip with a pair of games on the road at Chicago and New England before returning home to face the Houston Dynamo. Heading into the World Cup break, the results in the next three matches will be vital to determine the mettle of this young club.
"This trip is really going to show our team unity this early in the season, we've got two really tough games and a game at home." said Gavin. "It will really determine just how far along that we've come."
CHIVAS USA SIGNS JOSE MACOTELO
The Rojiblancos made a move to bolster their offense by signing Costa Rican forward Jose Macotelo on Friday. A 24-year old who has played his entire career with Puntarenas FC in Costa Rica trained with the club for the first time on Friday morning.
"Jose is a young and dynamic attacking player who can bring a lot to the club," said Head Coach Martin Vasquez in a press release. "We're excited to have him join the team and look forward to seeing him in action."
Macotelo will be eligible to play in Saturday's match against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.