CARSON -- Chivas USA's attacking troubles might not be so distinct had Michael Lahoud not strained his right hamstring two days before its Major League Soccer opener.
The fourth-year midfielder had a new job, on the right flank in a new 4-2-3-1 alignment that emphasized wing play in ways the Goats haven't, and was coming off an excellent preseason.
He was sprinting and working with the ball Wednesday morning for the first time since he was hurt in training three weeks ago, and he hopes to be back on the field by the April 7 game at Portland or the following week at Toronto FC.
“For sure, [I'm] close,” Lahoud said after the training session at Home Depot Center. “Just to be able to come out and do a little bit of sprinting, to be involved in some of the drills, to pass the ball … to put these studs back on, it does a wonder for your mind and your sanity.”
Robin Fraser was pleased to see him doing more.
“It's good to see Michael come out and do some ball work,” Chivas' coach said. “He's on the mend.”
The Goats have created just seven true scoring opportunties in a 1-2 start to the season, with a game coming up Sunday against Eastern Conference leader Sporting Kansas City at Home Depot Center. The team has been solid defensively but struggled to do much going forward, winger Ryan Smith aside. Lahoud, a versatile player who spent most of his time last year at right back, was a spark plug during the preseason.
Getting hurt, he says, “definitely was frustrating. When anything like that happens after you put in a lot of work for two months … it's like, all right, I did my practice test, now I'm ready for the exam -- for the season, where it all counts. But you deal with it. That's the thing about this game: The game keeps moving, and you have to catch back up. Now I'm doing a lot of makeup work, physically and, in particular, mentally. I'm trying to listen to my body and listen to my gut, but I'm definitely close.”
Watching from the sidelines is difficult, especially with so disjointed an attack, but Lahoud was inspired by what he saw from teammates in last weekend's 1-0 victory at Real Salt Lake.
“It speaks volumes when the run of play's against you, the other team's getting corner kick after corner kick, and you look across to the next guy -- and you saw it time and time again,” he said. “Guys were fired up, screaming at each other, screaming at the guys across. It's all holding each other accountable, and it's a massive step in the right direction.
“I think if you look at the winning teams in this league, they have that. We need that.”
Lahoud says he'll be “available whenever my body is ready to go,” and that time can't come soon enough.
“I'm foaming at the mouth [to get back on the field],” he said. “I'll be honest.”
MORE TRIALISTS: Four new trialists in camp, as part of a new relationship Chivas has with Sensifut, a Torreon, Mexico-based academy that produced Mexican national team pool forward Oribe Peralta, who plays for Torreon's Santos Laguna.
The four players, all born between 1989 and 1992, are left back Gerardo Daniel Torres, center back Javier Mena, central midfielder Victor Manuel Chavez and forward Jorge Eduardo Marquez.
The relationship with Sensifut, a club official said, could provide Chivas with a pipeline to young Mexican talent while taking in Chivas academy players, who could develop further through Mexican competition.
WORTH NOTING: Juan Pablo Angel has not returned to training, is still going through the post-concussion protocol and is not expected to be available against K.C. … Alejandro Moreno is training fully, equipped with a mask to protect his nose, which was broken twice, requiring surgery both times, earlier this month. He should be available Sunday. … Marco Delgado's Home Grown Player contract could be announced by early next week. … Chivas is not currently considering former Goats midfielder Rodrigo Lopez, who played against UC Riverside but otherwise has not been involved in training. Congolese-born English defender Patrick Kanyuka has left camp. … UCLA All-American Brian Rowe, a supplemental draft choice that lost the battle with Cal Poly's Patrick McLain for the No. 3 goalkeeper job, has signed on to become an MLS pool goalkeeper, available to any club needing an additional netminder. He's with Toronto FC right now after starter Stefan Frei suffered a broken leg in training last week. Rowe had spent time on trial with the NASL's Carolina RailHawks after leaving Chivas days before the season opener. … K.C. will be the second straight Supporters' Shield leader on the Goats' schedule. Real Salt Lake was on top until losing to Chivas last weekend.