When I think of Miller Bolanos in 2013, I just feel sad.
The only player to improve over the course of the 2012 season in my estimation with Chivas USA, Bolaños appeared to be ready to really make his mark in MLS in 2013. He scored early and often in the preseason, when Chivas were flying high, and then everything came crashing to a halt.
Chelís talked up Bolaños heading into the season, but injuries hit him and muted his ability to contribute to a young and very inexperienced side. He played in the first two matches of the season, then unfortunately was sidelined for the next six league games, before playing just three more times in the league, and never under Jose Luis Real before being shown the door during the summer transfer window.
Here are Bolaños' stats with Chivas for 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||5||2||239||0||0||10||3||0||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||1||90||0||0||0||0||1||0|
As you can see here, for a guy who seemed to be in decent form coming into the season and showed he could score and set up goals on an MLS level the previous season, he couldn't manage any goals or assists this year. Add to that the fact that his shots were down, even in very limited minutes, and it was a disappointing run. One bright spot is that he did draw the penalty in Chivas' U.S. Open Cup game against the LA Blues that led to Dan Kennedy scoring the PK.
The question is whether the injuries ultimately cut short his time with Chivas, or if management decided he was not needed for this team. Either way, it's a total shame. I realize he was on loan to begin with, but Bolaños showed major potential in 2012, after struggling a bit early in his first season in MLS. To expect him to make a big step up, and then yank the rug out from under him and ship him back to Ecuador seems like a really bad idea. Of course, the player himself could have said he wanted to get away from the constant turmoil at Chivas, and if that's the case, I can understand that motivation.
Still, given the struggles this team had in scoring between Juan Agudelo's departure, in May, and Erick Torres' arrival, in July, Bolaños seemed like he would have been a good option to put out on the field, at the very least.
But again, Bolaños had the skills to succeed in MLS, if he had a full opportunity. He was a highly touted player coming into the team, and for him to be shown the door so early is indicative of the track record this team has had in recent years. Bolaños may not have impressed entirely in very limited minutes in 2013, but in my opinion, Chivas really missed a chance to continue developing a true game changer.
After leaving Chivas, Bolaños went back to his native Ecuador and went to powerhouse Emelec on loan from LDU Quito (interestingly, another former Chivas USA player, Marcos Mondaini, also plays for Emelec). Emelec just won the Serie A title, so he already found success since leaving Chivas. I tried looking for his statistics with Emelec, but since the team didn't have good information, the best I could find was that he made six appearances, five as a substitute, and didn't notch any goals or assists. So his stats were pretty similar to those with Chivas, honestly, although would you rather play sparingly for a bad team or a title-winning side?
Since he's on loan, it's unclear what will happen to Bolaños moving forward. I'd guess he'll remain in Ecuador for some time yet, and possibly look to make the move to a bigger South American league (notably Brazil or Argentina) and then possibly Europe. He's 23, so not young by South American standards but certainly not yet at his peak, and he's got time to really blossom. I wouldn't necessarily say he'll end up at one of the biggest European clubs one day, but I think he can potentially carve out a good career, and possibly even get selected to his national team, who made the World Cup, by the way. Like I said, it's just a shame that he couldn't really get the chance to truly prove his worth with the Goats in MLS.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!