Marvin Iraheta was an exciting young prospect signed early in the 2012 preseason, but met major misfortune when he tore his ACL in his first scrimmage with Chivas USA that year. After sitting out all of that season, he was finally ready to play in a competitive match in 2013.
Those who had watched him play previously marveled at his technical ability, his pedigree (including being named Development Academy Player of the Year), and his potential.
So he finally stepped onto the field for the Goats this year, and how did he do?
Well...he tried hard.
He played as a holding midfielder, and he has said in interviews that is his proper position. He got the vast majority of his minutes while Chelís was in charge, and it is possible that coach's very unorthodox tactics did not really showcase Iraheta's talents. In fact, I'd say that was likely.
But what I saw in 2013 was a player who hustled but who had not caught up to the speed of MLS. My lasting image of him was as a guy who seemed to be riding on an opponent's back through the midfield. That's not exactly the preferred sight for a player, even a holding mid who has to do the team's dirty work.
Here are Iraheta's statistics in 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||13||5||551||0||0||3||0||2||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||2||1||144||0||0||0||0||0||0|
It was somewhat telling that Jose Luis Real barely played Iraheta, but I don't want to imply that the guy doesn't have any talent. I think that in addition to the tactical anarchy Chelís had, Chivas' depth chart at the position over the course of the year squeezed the Salvadorian-American out. Given his experience and status as coming from Chivas de Guadalajara, Edgar Mejia was basically a lock in the lineup all season, and once he was healthy, fit, and no longer feuding with management, Oswaldo Minda's class meant he had to be on the field.
Still, Real opted to use Gabriel Farfan (in a position he hadn't played in MLS, though he could grow into it) and Carlos Borja (also out of position, something I still don't quite understand) as backup defensive midfielders ahead of Iraheta, so I suppose the writing was on the wall for the season. The 21-year-old did not have a successful season, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's reached his potential yet.
Chivas declined Iraheta's contract option after the season, and he is currently a free agent. Since he made the regular league minimum this season, I don't foresee them bringing him back. He could get picked up by another MLS team, but I think he probably should go to the NASL and get some seasoning there. Alternately, he could try his luck in Central America, where his size could benefit him more (one reason why I think he rode opponents so often was because he couldn't physically stop guys who were stronger than him).
To me, regrouping, and getting competitive minutes in a different league will probably aid Iraheta's development the most. Obviously suffering that injury last year put him behind the eight ball, but he just didn't show himself to be a player fully ready to make the step up to MLS in 2013.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!