In 2013, Tristan Bowen played the most MLS minutes in his career to date, and had in many respects his best season with Chivas USA since arriving in 2011. He got regular minutes under both Chelís and Jose Luis Real, and he contributed to the scoring, ranking in a tie for third on the team in goals, and they were pretty great goals, it must be said.
But Bowen was also a maddening player at times. He may have been near the top of the scoring charts on the team, but he only scored two goals all year. He ranked third on the team in total shots, but couldn't even manage to get to 10 on target. And while his goals were good, they were so few and far between that Bowen could not be counted on to contribute consistently.
I've written before this year about Bowen's favored position, which is right wing. Though touted and often played as a central striker, Bowen himself publicly clarified his best position, making Robin Fraser's decision to play him there a handful of times in 2012 seem pretty astute (and Bowen was the most dangerous attacking midfielder in those appearances, frankly).
But with Eric Avila taking the lion's share of minutes at right wing, and frankly doing better there, and given the dearth of strikers on Chivas' roster at times, Bowen saw plenty of time at forward, and it didn't seem to work out all that well.
Here are Bowen's statistics for 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||22||15||1,173||2||2||32||7||6||1|
|U.S. Open Cup||2||2||156||0||1||0||0||0||0|
Probably the other main talking point from Bowen's season was his temperament and red card. He was a fiery guy, no doubt, and having a fiery temper isn't a bad thing in itself. In fact, teams need guys who will stand up for themselves and their team. But Bowen let his emotions boil over quite a bit this year, and for a team with a lot of youth and not enough leaders to harness the group's intensity, it wasn't always put to good use. In other words, Bowen got frustrated a lot, and that didn't really pay off in his production.
He was co-leader of the team in yellow cards, but the incident when he spit at Chris Klute in Chivas' 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids in August, it marked a low point in his season, and possibly career. Players make mistakes, and it can certainly be something he can come back from. But it was a bad, bad incident, and really brought Chivas' disciplinary problems to a head.
Jose Luis Real did play Bowen after his red card and subsequent suspension, but he didn't give him any more starts on the season (up to that Colorado match, he had started four straight games and four of the last 10). Again, Bowen may bounce back from the mistake no problem, but it left a very bad taste in the mouths of Chivas fans, and for good reason. It seemed like his days might be numbered with the club, and indeed they were.
Bowen's rights were traded to the Seattle Sounders for Mauro Rosales earlier this month. From Chivas' perspective, this was a very good deal on paper, assuming Rosales can play regularly and will contribute at a solid rate in 2014. Although Rosales will make more than Bowen, the value of his contract will arguably be much better, as Bowen made $125,000 base salary ($156,363.63 guaranteed compensation) in 2013. For a team with a rock bottom payroll, Bowen was one of the highest paid players on the team (sixth-highest in May 2013), and it has to be said the deal wasn't good value in that respect.
Maybe Bowen can earn a contract with the Sounders and take his career to greater heights. I think he can offer something on an MLS level. But he needs to improve his finishing and playmaking if he is to become a regular contributor to an MLS side.
I think Bowen showed some promise in his time with Chivas, but in the end I don't think losing him will be a big loss, frankly. He had some good moments, but those were not frequent enough to count him as a core member.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!