CARSON, Calif. – A trio of UC Santa Barbara alumni who bled blue-and-gold over their college careers have now found themselves teammates once again, except this time they're donning red-and-white.
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy (played at UCSB from 2001-04), midfielder Eric Avila (2005-07), and defender Tony Lochhead (2001-04) all started and played the full 90 minutes in a season-opening victory for Los Angeles-based MLS club Chivas USA at the StubHub Center on Mar. 9, as the Goats were able to take down the Chicago Fire by a score of 3-2.
Avila was a key cog in the center of the park for Chivas, who tallied three goals on the day. Kennedy made three saves and earned his first win of the season. Lochhead was making his Chivas debut after coming over from A-League side Wellington in January.
"It's always great to see the different players who come up through your program be able to link up again professionally," said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg, who has seen 26 players under his tutelage be drafted into the MLS since taking the reins of the program in 1999. "All three of those guys were model student-athletes, and I'm sure with their level of talent that they can help Chivas do some good things."
Kennedy, UCSB's all-time winningest goalkeeper, was a main contributor on the 2004 team that reached the national championship game. The two-time Big West Goalkeeper of the Year had an unreal 0.55 goals against average in his senior year, and became the third Gaucho to be drafted that season, going in the fourth round of the MLS Supplemental Draft to Chivas.
Since becoming a full-timer in 2008, Kennedy has established himself as one of the top keepers in the league. Chivas USA's 2012 Team MVP, he has started at least 30 matches and made over 100 saves in each of the past three seasons.
Lochhead, another member of the 2004 team, played 7,546 minutes over his UCSB career, second-most in program history behind Kennedy. The New Zealand native took that dependabilty back to his home country following his college days, as he set the record for most career appearances with Wellington Phoenix and earned 43 caps with the national team. UCSB's first-ever draftee, he was acquired by Chivas on Jan. 22, 2014 and should be a mainstay on the team's back line.
Avila was also recently acquired by Chivas USA in a Jan. 2013 trade with the Colorado Rapids. Eric, a 2006 National Champion, had team-highs with 25 starts and eight goals that season. He has bounced around the MLS since being chosen in the 2008 SuperDraft, spending time with FC Dallas, FC Toronto, and the Colorado Rapids before landing in Los Angeles. Avila had the most productive campaign of his career in his first go-around with Chivas, recording career highs in starts (24) and goals (three), earning the Mexican-American a trial spell with the team's parent club C.D. Guadalajara of Liga MX.
The UCSB trio will next be in action with the red-and-white this Sunday afternoon as they take on the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Come out and join Gaucho Athletics at the Annual Parent Click Kids Expo this Saturday at La Cumbre Plaza! Members of our men's and women's soccer teams, women's volleyball, Ole' and more will be at our booth from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.