Continuing the end-of-season series in reviewing all of the Chivas USA players in 2011, a familiar pattern has emerged. Each player has his own narrative, complete with accomplishments, injuries, and inconsistency. But there was a large proportion of players whose season can be summed up as frustrating. Perhaps that's why Chivas had an ultimately disappointing season collectively. Today's entry in the series is Marcos Mondaini, who probably personifies frustration for Chivas USA in 2011. The Argentine came to the Goats from South America just prior to the start of the season, and he made 24 appearances (20 starts) on the year. He scored three goals and made two assists, and his goals were all quite memorable.
But Mondaini's season was defined by his awful tackle on Real Salt Lake playmaker Javier Morales on May 7. Chivas were already down to 10 men by the time Mondaini tackled Morales from behind just before halftime. Morales' ankle was dislocated and broken instantly in the incident, and Mondaini was immediately ejected. A good case can be made that Morales' absence for most of the season changed the outcome of the MLS Supporters Shield and MLS Cup in 2011, as RSL struggled mightily in Morales' absence. For his part, Mondaini was suspended an additional three games following his automatic one-game ban - the second-longest suspension in MLS in 2011. Coming during a stretch when Steve Zakuani and David Ferreira both suffered season-ending injuries, Mondaini was briefly vilified around the league before people who don't follow Chivas basically forgot about him, which was the best outcome for him in his first season in the league.Mondaini started the first eight games of the season, and only left the lineup with the Morales incident. He alternated during the early part of the season between midfield and forward. He seems best suited as a withdrawn striker, and essentially played in that role most of the time on the field. After Chivas switched to a 4-3-3 at the tail-end of the season, Mondaini played out wide up front, which also seemed to fit his skills well. Although Heath Pearce was the set piece specialist early in the season, he wasn't particularly effective, and the duties floated to Simon Elliott for a time before Mondaini took most of the set pieces by the end of the season. The thing is that I don't think anybody on the roster was particularly good at set pieces, and while Mondaini was capable of directing the ball towards goal on free kicks and corner kicks, actual goals were hard to come by. I really hope either Chivas gets a good set piece taker in the offseason, or a current Goat works hard and gets some magical skills before the next season begins.
Mondaini's best stretch of the season came immediately following his suspension. He scored two goals in the first two games back, including the game winner against the Portland Timbers on June 4. For those first couple of games, he seemed like a man on a mission, seemingly looking to prove himself to the team following his mistake against RSL. But following his goal on June 11, he didn't score for the rest of the season, which is obviously not ideal. His assists did come in the final four games of the season, including on the wonderful build-up that led to Victor Estupinan's goal in the season finale against the Seattle Sounders. But Mondaini's lack of consistent production was, yes, frustrating.
The question now is whether Mondaini will be back in 2012. He was on loan to Chivas in 2011, so he may be recalled or Chivas may not want him back. They left him unprotected in the recent Expansion Draft, but I'm not sure if it was because they don't think that highly of him or if they did it strategically, believing nobody would be interested in him in the draft. I do think he is capable of giving Chivas a unique dynamic, and would like to see him back at least another season to see if he can get his feet under him in MLS and score more regularly. Plus, the departure of Justin Braun and the currently uncertain status of Juan Pablo Angel means Chivas need forwards. I'm guessing he'll be back in 2012, but Chivas have been very active so far this offseason so you never can tell. All in all, 2011 was an up and down season for Mondaini, and if he's back in 2012, he will have something to prove for the Goats.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!