We're moving on up the 2011 season rankings for minutes played, and today's entry, Michael Lahoud, was just outside the top 10 for minutes played on the year for Chivas USA. Spending most of his season as a full back, Lahoud was the primary backup to Ante Jazic and Zarek Valentin, although he also spent a little time in the midfield for the Goats. Above all, he provided depth for the squad and was one of the first bench players called upon game in and game out for Robin Fraser. A few key mistakes notwithstanding, 2011 was a pretty solid season for Lahoud.
He appeared in 23 matches in 2011 and started 17 of those, scoring a goal and chipping in three assists. He seemed to be the resident "speed defender" for the Goats, although I don't think he's in the top echelon of MLS speedsters. It seems at this point in his career that he is destined to be a full back, and Lahoud had some growing pains.In particular, the June 18 game, a 2-1 loss at home to FC Dallas, was a microcosm of what he did well and poorly last season. With Chivas down 1-0 in the second half, Lahoud hit a speculative shot outside the box that was deflected on its way into the net to tie the match. From there, the team seemed energized and capable of clawing their way back for a draw on the night. But Lahoud let a ball go in his own end, thinking it would bounce harmlessly to Dan Kennedy, and Dallas defender Jackson Goncalves pounced on it to score the winner. It was just one match, and players are not perfect, but it was a case where a plus on one end was negated on the other end.
At this point, Lahoud's ceiling seems to be approximately where he was in 2011, as a good squad player getting good minutes. I certainly think he is capable of starting long stretches as a full back, and perhaps as a box to box midfielder, but given Chivas' current personnel (obviously subject to change) he is not a first option. I do think it's possible he could slot into Ante Jazic's position full time in a couple years when Jazic moves on, although I wouldn't be surprised if Chivas picked up another left back when Jazic's tenure ends. The good news for Lahoud is that he's entering the most productive phase of his career, at 25, and he's pretty affordable, making a base salary of $63,360 in 2011. As a result, he fits in well as a solid MLS pro, and that role will likely remain in 2012.
Finally, Lahoud won the club's humanitarian award in 2011. It's a worthy accomplishment, especially considering the charity work needed locally and globally. By all accounts, Lahoud is a mature and giving guy, and his positive attitude can certainly help out in the locker room. His achievements in the community are commendable, especially considering the relatively low salaries most MLS players make compared to other professional athletes. And with the arrival of James Riley, who won the Seattle Sounders' humanitarian award in 2011, Lahoud will have some competition helping people in Los Angeles and beyond. For Chivas, having guys with good character can only help in building a winning tradition at the club. Here's hoping Lahoud continues to contribute on and off the field in 2012.
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