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Patrick McLain makes swift ascent to Chivas USA starting goalkeeper

The 24-year-old is set to make his first-ever start in MLS Sunday.

Next week, we should have pictures of McLain in a Chivas USA uniform!
Next week, we should have pictures of McLain in a Chivas USA uniform!

Dan Kennedy is Chivas USA's undisputed first-choice starter at goalkeeper for Chivas USA. Over the past couple seasons, he's only missed two games each season, so he is largely the iron man for the club. However, backups must be prepared, and may occasionally see action when Kennedy can't go.

Following DK's red card Sunday against Sporting Kansas City, Patrick McLain was brought on for his MLS debut, as well as his competitive debut overall for Chivas USA. Signed as a third-string goalkeeper at the beginning of the 2012 season, McLain was named to the bench several times last year for Kennedy and second-string keeper Tim Melia, but never featured.

Although McLain didn't post good stats in his 34 minutes of work (3 goals allowed, no saves) his teammates were completely overmatched by the time he entered the game, and he didn't actually get a reasonable chance to make any saves.

The club has posted an article to their official site saying that McLain will be the starter Sunday, and he is currently preparing for the assignment while Kennedy has to serve his mandatory one-game suspension. It is good to see that Chelís evidently has the belief that McLain is up to the challenge, and the threat of a "goalkeeper controversy" is apparently nonexistent.

But this does raise the question regarding Melia's status. Prior to Sunday's match, Melia had been in the 18-man squad for every game this season. Melia was not listed on the injury report last Friday, although I have written several times that the team is not required to file a fully accurate injury report. As a result, there is a good chance that Melia is injured and the club is simply not releasing that news.

On the other hand, it could be the case that McLain has surpassed Melia in the depth chart. Both Melia and McLain joined Chivas last year, and Melia played in five games across all competitions last season, as the undisputed number two goalkeeper. Although Melia didn't have prior MLS game experience to last season, he'd previously been on an MLS roster, and had more lower league pro experience than McLain, so it made a certain sense that he was ahead of McLain on the depth chart. Also, he signed a contract extension that was announced after the start of this season, making it seem pretty clearly like he remains in the club's plans.

But perhaps McLain has impressed Chelís more than Melia. McLain recently returned from a loan stint with the LA Blues, but he never appeared for them competitively during the approximate month-long spell. Either way, he is the choice Sunday for the Goats against the Portland Timbers. Whether that's from injury or coach's choice is unclear, but hopefully McLain will get a chance to prove himself on the field.

With McLain set to get his first start, you may want to revisit the interview we conducted with McLain during the preseason.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!