Oswaldo Minda had a 2013 season with Chivas USA that must have left him with whiplash. During the preseason, he was told by management to sit out, presumably because the team was trying to shop him. He ended up getting on the field late during training camp, played in three of the first five games, and then got hurt, he said because he had not had a full preseason to get ready for the rigors of the campaign.
During the season, he claimed he had been held out of the lineup by Chivas long after recovering from his injury, went on the radio in Ecuador saying the team was withholding payment of his full salary, and was rumored to be on his way back to his native country in the summer transfer window.
In between all of that, he featured for Chivas, scoring the game winner against FC Dallas to give the Goats their first competitive win in far too long, and ended the season as a fixture in Jose Luis Real's lineup.
Based on all the drama that surrounded the 30-year-old's season, the questions to ask are whether he was the problem, and regardless, if he was worth the trouble.
On the first point, I can't say for certain, since I am not privy to all of the dealings behind the scenes. Certainly, for a player to speak out as often and as willingly as Minda did in 2013 indicates a breakdown in communication between player and team, since he went to the press to air his grievances out in public. But since this is Chivas USA we're talking about, and since we are aware of plenty of miscues, wrong turns and bad decisions made in 2013 in particular, Minda doesn't come across as a troublemaker. On the contrary, he seems like a guy who was desperate to change matters and found the way to do it -- speak up in public.
Here are Minda's statistics for 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||16||15||1,224||1||0||6||1||6||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||1||120||0||0||1||1||0||0|
On the second big question, whether Minda was worth the "trouble," which again, I think Chivas was largely responsible for, I would say he is definitely worth it. Though injuries slowed him down in 2013, he was still one of the three best players on the team for my money. And he played defensive midfielder in the manner that fits right in around MLS -- physically, able to play the "pest" role well in order to throw opponents off their rhythm, and to pitch in with technical skills from time to time.
Good holding midfielders are not a dime a dozen. Proof of that comes from Chivas themselves when Minda was not in the lineup. Marvin Iraheta, Carlos Borja and Gabriel Farfan could not influence the game or provide the same skills Minda could.
And on the plus side this year, not only did Minda avoid getting red carded for the second year in a row, which is pretty remarkable in itself, but he drastically cut down on the number of yellows he picked up. In 2012, he was given a yellow card every 134 minutes, but last year, he was cautioned every 204 minutes. Although he was co-leader on the team in yellows in 2013, making it two years in a row he held that title, he was only suspended once and getting six yellows all season is really a good haul for a player like Minda.
In the end, 2013 was a start-and-stop year for the Ecuadorian. Most of his headlines were garnered for off-the-field issues, but the good news is that apparently player and club came to an agreement and he was able to see consistent minutes late in the season. Chivas had another poor year, but I think Minda acquitted himself well once again.
In many respects, it is a bummer that Minda has played on such bad Chivas teams. I absolutely think he would fit right in on a title-winning side in MLS, and though he is closer to the end of his playing career than the beginning, he still should have several good years to play yet. If Chivas are really serious about building a winner, they shouldn't need to look for a good holding midfielder, as they already have one.
I certainly wouldn't be surprised if he left Chivas, however. It really did seem like he was out the door in the summer, but whatever deal was in the cards at that time evidently fell through. And if the club acts like they want to get rid of him then chances are they will seal the deal next time.
Minda was on $125,000 base salary ($143,750 guaranteed compensation) in 2013. For a Designated Player, that salary is a bargain, and I would argue Minda's quality makes it a steal. Considering the small size of the roster, and the fact that nobody is currently on any "big" money by MLS standards, it simply cannot be argued that Minda is too expensive to stick around.
I hope Chivas have come to their senses regarding Minda and keep him with the club, and I hope he wants to stay. Give him a full preseason, make him the automatic starter at defensive mid unless he suffers a major drop in form, and stock the roster with better players, especially on the defense. It will take work to rebuild Chivas, but it can be done, and Minda is already one of the building blocks from which to do it.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!