Michael Lahoud was out at Chivas USA's training session Wednesday in Home Depot Center's Track and Field Stadium, and he was looking good. Wrap-around shades and a baseball cap.
"I guess," he said, "it's pretty cool to have glasses on for training."
Not cool enough. Lahoud would rather have been on the field with his teammates, but concussion problems cropped up again in Sunday's 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls -- his first game with Chivas' first team since sustaining the injury on April 16 -- and now he's forced to start over in his recovery.
"More or less," he acknowledged. "It's happenstance and kind of a freak thing. Because I was feeling very well leading up to it. It's another obstacle to overcome."
Lahoud, initially injured in a collision with teammate Nick LaBrocca in a 0-0 draw at Vancouver, returned to action in an MLS Reserve League clash May 8 at Seattle. He was at right back Sunday, and says everything was going as hoped for until he headed away a 24th-minute corner kick, a blistering drive, from Red Bulls defender Rafa Marquez. He looked dazed right away and was pulled from the game six minutes later after heading two more balls, then sitting down on the turf.
"That's exactly what happened," said the third-year pro out of Wake Forest. "I was feeling pretty good up until then, and as soon as that happened, I just started feeling it. And after that, it felt like it was the best thing for me and for the team to come out, especially in a game of that magnitude. As exciting as it was, got to look at the bigger picture."
It's another blow to a makeshift backline that has been beset with injury, but Andy Boyens returns from suspension this week and probably will team up with Heath Pearce in central defense, as in the four previous games, in Saturday's SuperClasico against the Galaxy at HDC. Midfielder Ben Zemanski and little-used Michael Umaña, a starter last year, also are options.
Coach Robin Fraser was saddened to see Lahoud go down again, and the versatile midfielder/defender must again complete the post-concussion protocol, which requires a week without symptoms before a return to training and neurological tests before playing in a game.
"Extremely [unfortunate]," Fraser said. "Obviously, he's a wonderful talent. You just never know. Obviously, we want him to get well as quickly as possible, and in the meantime, we have to keep pushing forward."
Lahoud is trying to keep his frustration at bay.
"It's been an unusual start to league for me," he said. "I usually pride myself on my durability to last throughout a season, but I think as players we all go through some weird things. I'm still very hopeful. I still believe in my body, I just probably need more time than I think to really get everything sorted out.
"But even though it was a short while, just the sniff that I got in the [Red Bulls] game was really exciting. It was a reminder of how fortunate we are to do what we do."
'COCKY' RED BULLS?: Why did Chivas beat the Red Bulls? Ask the home side, they'll tell you it was weary legs from a midweek friendly in Montreal and far too much arrogance.
"We can’t go in super cocky and think we’ve got each and every game in the bag, because we don’t," center back Tim Ream told the New York Post. “Obviously, we went in [against Chivas] and weren’t mentally into the game. You see their record, and that was part of the reason we came out flat. We can’t sit back and think we’re going to win every game by two or three goals; it’s just not going to happen in this league."
Coach Hans Backe told the newspaper that his players have to realize that, as one of the league's powers, they're going to get opponents' best games.
"It can’t be a surprise. [We, Real Salt Lake and] L.A. are the teams to beat. Every team who plays us, it’s almost a cup final," he said. “They will run more, they will tackle more, and we just have to handle this if we’re going to improve and develop. After 90 minutes, you could see Chivas just running out celebrating like a cup final. I said [to the players] this is the way it has to be, and you guys have to be good enough to handle this, even if we have a bad day. Defending 100 percent, we should wind up a tie. As a class team, it should be a tie, and we can live with it when we have a bad day."
Fraser was asked what he thought about the comments.
"Trying to get me to do a John Spencer?" he said, referencing the Portland Timbers' head coach, who smacked the Seattle Sounders after they threw out excuses on why they didn't win a showdown last weekend in Seattle. And Spencer's crack -- that the Timbers would bring tissues on their next visit so the Sounders could dry their tears -- was pretty funny. "Spenny's one of the funniest people I've ever met," Fraser noted.
The Red Bulls comments?
"If that's their opinion, then that's fine," he said. "We're not really concerned about what they're saying. We're concerned about what we're doing, and we look at that game, we did well to score a number of goals, but we also weren't as good as we think we needed to be. It's just another game we have to improve upon going into [this week's game]."
WORTH NOTING: Venezuela has called up forward Alejandro Moreno for three friendlies as it begins preparations for the July 1-24 Copa America, South America's nations championship, and the Vinotinto would like him to stick around through the tournament. Chivas doesn't have to release him for the full month-plus buildup, but he's expected to be available for matches June 1 against Guatemala in Guatemala City, June 7 vs. Spain in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela, and June 11 against Mexico's U-23 side in Las Vegas. Mexico will field the younger team as a Copa America guest entrant. ... Center back Jimmy Conrad reports there has been no change in his symptoms as he looks to return from a concussion. The veteran was hurt in a March 26 loss to Colorado. ... Fraser said none of the other sidelined players -- midfielders Blair Gavin (hamstring strain) and Paulo Nagamura (calf strain), forward Tristan Bowen (sprained ankle) and defender Seth Owusu (meniscus surgery) -- are likely to be available against the Galaxy. Gavin and Owusu trained fully Wednesday. ... Midfielder Artur Aghasyan, a Chivas trialist since early in preseason, has departed for a trial with Real Salt Lake.