Walter Vilchez arrived to Chivas USA during the 2013 preseason an unknown to MLS fans, but with a solid resume. Though the Peruvian spent most of his career playing in his domestic league, he had amassed 64 caps with Peru's national team and spent time in Mexico, including time under Chelís. That last part was clearly the link that brought Vilchez to Chivas, as Chelís said publicly that the defender was one of two players he asked to have brought to the club (the other? Joaquin Velazquez...yikes).
Altogether, Vilchez's season was brief, as he was cut by mid-July. The official word was that it was by "mutual consent," so perhaps he asked to leave the team. But even though he was a marked man after Chelís' departure, I would argue that losing Vilchez midseason was a mistake.
Although a knee injury hampered his brief tenure with Chivas, as he was sidelined for two months early in the season, I think the 31-year-old showed his quality, at least compared to the rest of the defense, in limited minutes.
Here are Vilchez's statistics with Chivas USA in 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||11||11||970||0||1||2||1||3||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||1||120||1||0||1||1||0||0|
In many respects, it was a shame Vilchez went down with the knee injury when he did, in Chivas' first win in a long, long time, against FC Dallas. He set up Juan Agudelo's goal with a terrific pass in that match, but hit the deck in stoppage time.
And that's too bad, since he showed he could pass well, could play in the middle as well as on the left (and remember, Chivas had no pure left back on the squad all season), and defend ok. That last part, though most important for his job, is the part that was most inconclusive. I think Vilchez showed he could become a solid-to-good MLS defender, but his injury, the defenders around him, and the circumstances surrounding the coaching situation while being one of Chelïs' "guys" meant, like way too many players in 2013, he came and went.
Since he was cut loose in July, Vilchez didn't find another team in the summer transfer window, which was a little surprising. But it appears he'll be back in January, playing for Peruvian side UTC (Spanish). He might not be a young pup, but he's only 31, so he should have at least a few good years ahead of him, and he seems to be well-regarded in his home country.
Vilchez would have made a full $116,666 had he remained with Chivas USA all season. That made him one of the highest-paid players on the team (ninth-highest when the figures were first announced in May), but considering his pedigree, that wasn't really a bad deal.
I think Chivas made a mistake in letting Vilchez go, but what's done is done. He's back in Peru and the Goats are possibly cobbling together a central defense, between Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Burling, and Andrew Jean-Baptiste. We'll see if matters are looking up for player and team moving forward.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!
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