Though he didn't see the field a great deal in 2013, Steve Purdy may have been the most popular new Chivas USA player.
Coming from a stint with the Portland Timbers, the defender came to the Goats as a free agent trialist, and played his way into a contract. From the first word that he was training with the team, fans came out in droves to support him, and in the process Chivas actually attracted fans, via the Salvadorians living in the region. Given the massive struggles of the team to bring in supporters in 2013, Purdy's mere presence provided a boost, and that can't be discounted.
On the field, however, his contributions were considerably muted. Between injuries that bracketed his campaign, plus a lengthy absence in the middle of the season while on international duty with El Salvador for the Gold Cup, Purdy didn't really see much time this year.
Here are Purdy's stats with Chivas USA in 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||8||5||478||0||0||4||1||1||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Certainly, the leg injury early in the season prevented him from getting into the mix early, the Gold Cup absence kept him out of the rotation in the middle of the campaign, and getting his face broken late ended his season early. So outside circumstances played a part in reducing his role.
Add to that his position, and it seemed like he never really fit with either coach's ideal for the backline. He is something of a tweener, though he had mostly played as a full back for the Timbers. Under Chelís, full backs were entirely unnecessary, and Real decided to blood a very young midfielder, Marky Delgado, at right back rather than give Purdy consistent minutes there. Frankly, it was pretty puzzling.
I think in some respects Purdy suffered from the lack of talent around him. He did not deal well with speed at all, but then again neither did any of his teammates in defense. Had he been paired with a player who could deal with speed, however, it could have worked, but that didn't happen in 2013.
Purdy is a free agent once again, after Chivas declined his contract option. He made $80,004 (base salary and guaranteed compensation) last year, which is fairly steep for a player who played less than a quarter of the games. It is possible Chivas could renegotiate with him and bring him back on a lower salary, though we'll have to wait until preseason to get an indication if that will happen. Also, with his departure as well as that of fellow Salvadorian Marvin Iraheta, will their compatriots still continue to follow the Goats? It might seem like a strange question but when the club needs as many fans as they can get, losing an entire national bloc might not be smart. I'm not suggesting signing and keeping players of a certain nationality for the express purpose of trying to appeal to fans of that nationality, but I think the team should take into account marketing considerations to some extent in this particular case.
As a player on El Salvador's national team, he will likely get more opportunities moving forward, especially with the team rocked by bans on players emerging from a match-fixing scandal (one that occurred before Purdy received his first call-up). He could try his luck in Central America, or he could see if another MLS club will take him on. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he went to another MLS team. I think he's a solid pro in the league, not the best guy, but certainly not the worst. He wasn't the worst on Chivas in 2013, that's for sure. But the season was something of a lost opportunity for player and club alike, as Purdy just didn't get on the field enough to determine if cutting him loose will cost the team down the line. Instead, it appears he remains something of an unknown quantity, even after four seasons in MLS.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!