Time to review another Chivas USA player in 2011. Today's entry is defender Andrew Boyens. The Kiwi was in his first season with Chivas after spending the last three with the New York Red Bulls, and started the season out strongly. Playing 909 minutes on the season, Boyens started seven of Chivas' first eleven games in 2011, and following the injury of starting center back Jimmy Conrad, seemed like was establishing himself in the starting lineup. But with the shift to Michael Umana as a starting center back, Boyens was buried in the depth chart and went almost four full months before getting another start. With news that his contract option for 2012 has been declined by the team, it seems quite likely Boyens will not be back next season.
In the ten matches Boyens started in 2011, Chivas won three, lost three and tied four. In his twelve total appearances, he scored one goal, in a draw against the Columbus Crew on May 28, and had no assists. He saw a yellow or red card in only one match, but it was very costly. Against Real Salt Lake on May 7th, Boyens had two sloppy tackles early in the game, and was ejected inside the first half hour of the match. Although Chivas only lost 1-0, his departure meant the rest of the team had to play more defensively as a unit, and Marcos Mondaini broke the ankle of Javier Morales on a terrible tackle shortly after Boyens' red card, and we all know what a disaster that was. You can't blame Boyens for the poor tackle, but without his ejection Mondaini probably wouldn't have risked making such a bad tackle.Anybody who reads this site with any regularity knows how I felt about Boyens this season. Is he an all-star caliber MLS defender? No. But besides the RSL match, did he make any egregious mistakes that merited his benching? I didn't see any. I thought he played solidly and above all, looked to be more steady at center back than Umana. Both guys are internationals, they have played nearly an identical number of games in MLS (68 for Boyens to 65 for Umana) and they are nearly the same age (Boyens is 28, Umana 29). Umana made more than twice as much as Boyens ($138,000 to $60,000 in base salary in 2011), which likely comes from Umana returning to Costa Rica after playing with the Galaxy in 2005 and negotiating a decent salary upon returning to MLS in 2010.
What's clear is this: Chivas coach Robin Fraser preferred Umana a few months into the season and Boyens was left out. It's unclear if there were other factors behind the scenes that led to Boyens' benching, but I doubt he will be returning to Chivas for 2012. To me, that's a shame, and I think another team looking for a center back should take a look at him. Again, he's not the best, but he's solid. His speed isn't great (wasn't for any starting defenders in 2011) but he's got the size to provide some coverage in the penalty box and deal with taller attackers. Whatever the future holds for Boyens, we wish him the best of luck moving forward.