An interesting bit of news for you: Scott French at ESPN is reporting that MLS veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas will sign with Chivas USA. Although no official word has yet come from the club, the quotes from Robin Fraser in French's article, and the fact that Vagenas is pretty long in the tooth and probably won't have strange demands in negotiations, mean that all signs point to him becoming a Goat. In addition, he's been training with the club this week, sending many Chivas fans reeling on twitter.
Vagenas has played in the league since 2000, playing with the LA Galaxy from 2000-2008, with the Seattle Sounders 2009-2010, and last season with the Vancouver Whitecaps. While the long stretch with the Galaxy is what has initially left Chivas fans bewildered by the move, it isn't exactly surprising, as both Fraser and assistant coach Greg Vanney played with Vagenas on the Galaxy. The coaches have shown in their short tenure with Chivas that they have a preference for guys they know, whether it's guys they played with or guys from Real Salt Lake, where they were previously on the coaching staff.My initial impression is that I don't think Vagenas will be a particularly popular player among fans, as you might imagine, unless he really performs well and really makes an effort to appeal to the red-and-white side of the Home Depot Center. But I'm not as bothered by this move as other folks. My main concern is that I hope he doesn't feature a great deal for Chivas in 2012. With such a crowded midfield, combining returning players as well as a bunch of new guys, if Vagenas played a substantial portion of the matches, it means injuries have decimated the squad or other midfielders are severely underperforming.
Vagenas wasn't even signed by the Whitecaps until the middle of the season in 2011, and while he is 33, he clearly seems to be on the decline. I would hope he would contribute depth to the squad, and leadership for a team that will have a lot of young and inexperienced players in MLS. Especially with Simon Elliott and Jimmy Conrad gone, the team could use more leadership, although I hope most of it from Vagenas comes off the field instead of on it. Chivas will have a few stretches in the upcoming season with three games in about 10 days, and if he could slot in those matches, it would be a necessary step to prevent fatigue among the normal starters. If he played somewhere around 15 matches, I think it could be an effective move. Any more, it probably means the season's going badly, and any less would probably make it a wasted personnel move.
Still, we all saw the restorative powers of simply becoming a Goat last season, when Juan Pablo Angel transformed his season almost instantly after moving to Chivas' locker room in the HDC. Nobody would have predicted Nick LaBrocca's season in 2011, and many of us were skeptical about JPA. Can Fraser and company pull a similar trick with Vagenas? If it helps Chivas get in the playoffs, let's hope so.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!