Although Chivas USA received a point on Saturday, the defensive woes have been a problem the last several weeks. After a Chivas fan asked about the points breakdown between Andrew Boyens and Michael Umana in the starting lineup, I decided to compare the entire defense to this point in the season. So, here are the stats for all of the players who have started in defense this season.
Here's the baseline for the team overall this season: 17 matches. Record: 4-7-6; Points: 18; Points per game: 1.06
The defenders who performed the best, based on points per start, in descending order:
Zarek Valentin: Started 13 matches. Record: 4-5-4; Points: 16; Points per start: 1.23
Michael Lahoud: Started 9 matches. Record: 2-3-4; Points: 10; Points per start: 1.11
Heath Pearce: Started 17 matches. Record: 4-7-6; Points: 18; Points per start: 1.06
Ante Jazic: Started 14 matches. Record: 3-6-5; Points: 14; Points per start: 1
Andrew Boyens: Started 7 matches. Record: 2-2-3; Points: 7; Points per start: 1
Michael Umana: Started 6 matches. Record: 1-3-2; Points: 5; Points per start: 0.83
Jimmy Conrad: Started 2 matches. Record: 0-2-0; Points: 0; Points per start: 0
So from this, we see that Valentin and Lahoud are averaging more than the team overall for the season. Considering no rookie has run away with rookie of the year honors yet this year, I think Valentin is a credible candidate, as he is clearly helping his team. Pearce is the only defender to start every match, so it is safe to say he remains a lock for the time being. Valentin and Boyens missed games while playing for their national teams (Valentin with U.S. under-20s, Boyens with senior New Zealand national team). Lahoud has been shuffled in and out of the lineup, and also missed time with a concussion. Conrad, who started the season as the captain, only played the first two games because of a concussion and has suffered from post-concussion symptoms ever since.
Umana was benched until June 1, when Chivas' form took a dip, and he has been blamed by some Chivas fans for the slide. He is clearly not the sole cause of the Goats defensive problems, as Lahoud, for example, essentially gifted FC Dallas the winning goal on June 18. The statistics, however, demonstrate Umana may not be the best choice to start.
Based on the statistics and their positions, here is the ideal lineup:
Right back: Lahoud
Central defense: Boyens
Central defense: Pearce
Left back: Valentin
Bench: Jazic (full back), Umana (center back)
What do you think about this lineup? Weigh in with your comments and questions!