If only Michael Lahoud had not suffered from a hamstring injury just prior to the start of the 2012 season, his year, and perhaps also Chivas USA's may have been considerably different.
Lahoud entered training camp this year with question marks surrounding him. He was used fairly often by Robin Fraser in 2011, but he never had a set position. Playing as a fullback, mostly as a back-up, and occasionally seeing time at defensive midfielder, Lahoud bounced around and never seemed to call a position his own. But he worked hard in the offseason, came back in great shape, and got an extended look from Fraser during training camp as a winger.
Those who watched him during training camp called Lahoud the MVP of the preseason. Yeah, that's not a binding award or anything, but it was a great sign that he might have finally settled at a position and was poised to break out in 2012. When Chivas played Club Tijuana in San Diego in February, Lahoud scored on a good cross from Ryan Smith to give the Goats a lead. It seemed like Lahoud and Smith would be two dangerous wingers to give the attack regular service.
But then...Lahoud suffered that hamstring injury, and in hindsight, that had to be the death knell of his time with Chivas. Meanwhile, Chivas struggled all season with having a balanced attacking lineup, and for the most part used Smith, and occasionally Laurent Courtois, as their only winger on the field. Meanwhile, Lahoud only made two appearances, and those were of the substitute getting back to match fitness variety. For Chivas, the attack sputtered almost all season, and while Lahoud might not have made the difference between having a horrible attack and a respectable one, it might have improved the team's fortunes.
I'll leave it to my colleagues below to discuss the merits of the trade and the position Lahoud ended up playing most often with the Philadelphia Union. It appears that based on what he's done over his career during the season, Lahoud's ceiling is as a decent MLS pro. He may be sacrificing his true potential to play a position that isn't his best for the sake of his pro teams, but Lahoud is a decent player but not much more. His extensive community service work demonstrated his impact as a good character on the team, but in the end did Chivas really miss Lahoud? Probably not, although that potential in the preseason was so very tantalizing.
These are Lahoud's statistics with Chivas USA in 2012:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||2||0||54||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Scoring Threat: D
He scored two goals in his three seasons with Chivas and always managed to get in a few shots on goal. On Philly, only defenders and players with less than 200 minutes have so few shots as he did with the Union.
Playmaking (Passing/Creativity): D
His heatmaps as a Goat show winger but his actions screamed defensive mid. In his second game, Lahoud came on as a second half sub, all but one of his 16 passes were either backwards or in the Chivas half of the field, with one successful cross and zero shots. Not a bad performance, but definitely not a transformative, offensive juggernaut.
Was this circumstance or Lahoud? Recovering from injury, Lahoud still didn't quite trust his body so he played the style he was most comfortable with. Meanwhile Chivas had the lead in one game and were tied the other game when was Lahoud subbed in, raising the notion his instructions were to hold the lead. Unfortunately, they failed to get those points, settling for one instead of four in those two matches.
Defensive Chops: B
Fortunately Lahoud's small sample size with Chivas is bolstered by his 22 games (19 starts) with the Union. In Philadelphia, they stopped playing the guessing game and gave Lahoud a firm role as a holding midfielder. His aggressive tackles helped stymie opposing attacks and meted out a modest 21 fouls and four yellow cards.
In Lahoud's last ten games of the season they went 3-5-2, certainly a better mark than Chivas but not playoff-caliber.
- Matthew Hoffman
Lahoud was one of the players I'm sad to have seen gone. I think he has great skills on and off the field. He would've been a better option than Cardozo, in my opinion. However, it was obvious that in order to get Califf, we needed to send Philly someone who they saw as worth the value. Califf was a good acquisition, but is he a long term option that outweighed getting rid of Lahoud? That's not something I can answer for sure right now.
- Rachna Kapur
What do you think? Leave a comment below!