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Chivas USA 2014 Player Postmortem: Dani Fragoso

Did one moment make the difference in Fragoso's tenure with Chivas USA?

Fragoso in his final Chivas USA appearance.
Fragoso in his final Chivas USA appearance.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On one hand, midfielder Daniel Fragoso's tenure with Chivas USA, in looking at the bare numbers, was one of the most efficient in team history. 11 minutes played, four points earned.

Of course, 11 minutes is a tiny sample size, barely more than 1/9th of an actual game, and so it's hard to glean Fragoso's season from two fragmented substitute appearances in CUSA's first two games of 2014.

Coming over during the preseason and officially signed in March, just before the season started, Fragoso left his native Spain for the first time in his career, and was embarking on a new challenge. Perhaps there were a few flags from his resume that Chivas should have heeded, in that he had never left his native country and had played most of his career in the second and third divisions. The price appeared to be right, in that he was by all reports a free transfer, but would he be able to acclimate to a new country, culture, and soccer league?

Fragoso featured pretty often towards the end of the preseason as a holding midfielder, in the Desert Diamond Cup, and so it seemed like he would be part of the rotation. Perhaps in hindsight, CUSA coach Wilmer Cabrera was giving him so many minutes early on to see if he would hang, but he seemed to be doing pretty well before first kick.

He made his full MLS debut in the first game of the season, as he came off the bench for one minute of play in the Goats' 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire, to help ice the result and burn some clock after Bobby Burling's dramatic winner just two minutes earlier. Good job in what's a pretty cut-and-dried role - take up space and make sure the other team doesn't score on you.

But then...the next game was consequential. Chivas got a 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps the following week, a result that sounds good considering Chivas were down a man for 77 minutes. But after Erick Torres put CUSA ahead just before halftime, they hung on with the lead until the 81st minute, when Darren Mattocks intercepted a ball in the midfield, dribbled up and passed it to Kekuta Manneh, who scored the equalizer.

The Chivas USA player who coughed up the ball that led to the Vancouver goal? Fragoso, who had stepped on the field a minute earlier.

After that game, Cabrera didn't want to put the blame on Fragoso for the costly giveaway, and who knows what happened behind the scenes. But he didn't play again in MLS, and was waived less than a month later.

Here were Fragoso's statistics for the season:

Games Player Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 2 0 11 0 0 1 0 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 0 11 0 0 1 0 0 0

Of course, it's worth pondering whether Fragoso just wasn't really settling into the United States well, and that might have contributed to his departure. Of course, Chivas never indicated if there were off-field reasons for the Spaniard's departure, and since he wasn't a high-profile player in the grand scheme of things, there weren't questions asked about it, really. And with this team, it was yet another "easy come, easy go" for a player, something that became way too common in CUSA's final five years or so.

So what happened after he was cut loose? Fragoso returned to Spain and found a new team in Catalonia with third division side Lleida Esportiu. From the stats I could find, he's played more than 1,000 minutes so far this season with them, so it seems like a much better fit than his brief sojourn in MLS.

As a result, I don't expect to see him back on this side of the Atlantic again, though who knows what could happen after his playing days end, I suppose. Still, even successful teams bring players on who just don't work out. Chivas weren't a successful team, of course, but Fragoso was one of those guys. He did help contribute to four points for the team, though missing that fateful mistake, it might have been six. Nevertheless, 11 minutes is but a blink of an eye in a soccer season, and Fragoso didn't make much of an impression in 2014.

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