Nathan Sturgis joined Chivas USA following a trade for Carlos Alvarez with the Colorado Rapids at the start of July. The midfielder is the very definition of MLS journeyman, as he's officially played for the most teams ever in league history, with CUSA being his seventh different team in nine seasons.
At the time, I was pretty upset by the move, in seeing a promising young talent in Alvarez depart for a much older player who had one major spike in his career (which happened to be last year), and it seemed like a weird move, honestly. I got the sense that Sturgis' 2013 was like Nick LaBrocca's 2011 season with Chivas -- playing well beyond his normal level and unable to reach those heights again.
In the end, Sturgis was steady enough in his half season with the Goats. He was certainly a competent professional, and showed an MLS-level proficiency in playing in the midfield.
Here were Sturgis' statistics with Chivas USA in 2014:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||16||9||885||0||0||2||0||4||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Sturgis was clearly one of Wilmer Cabrera's guys, as he featured in all but three league games once he joined the club. And with a real glut of holding midfielders at the club -- Oswaldo Minda and Agustin Pelletieri entered the season as the main guys, with Marky Delgado and eventually, Nigel Reo-Coker joining the party along with Sturgis -- getting that much playing time indicated that Chivas' defense needed all the cover in the world and that he was a valuable addition to the club.
And it may be the nature of his position that makes me so lukewarm on his play overall. I can respect the ability Sturgis showed, and his passing ability was perhaps a bit underrated. But a holding midfielder who is neither destroyer or deep-lying playmaker often gets lost in the mix. That can be the fault of the viewer, certainly, as maybe I didn't focus on him as much as I should have during games. But with full backs playing full-on two way games or shifting over to help center backs out, and with the other positions on the field all seeing plenty of time and action with the ball, having a player whose primary job it is to clog passing lanes and defend positionally as much as going directly after the ball means his game is going to be extremely subtle.
The 27-year-old Sturgis, like most of his CUSA teammates, is currently without a team for 2015. He may not have been selected in the Dispersal Draft or Waiver Draft, but I think he'll have little issue ultimately finding an MLS team for next season. His price tag may be a bit steep for interested clubs (he made a bit over $120,000 in guaranteed compensation, which is probably fair value for his nine seasons of service but will probably lead to a renegotiation), especially if he isn't a starter (he could start on some teams, but I think a team with good depth could choose to bring him in as a veteran presence and insurance).
Can he regain the heights of his 2013 season with Colorado on another new team in 2015? Again, I doubt it, but that doesn't mean Sturgis can't bring experience and consistency on the field to the table of another team. Or maybe he'll return to one of his old stomping grounds or join a familiar face...he's already played for Jason Kreis, Sigi Schmid, Dominic Kinnear and Oscar Pareja. Either way, expect the MLS journeyman to continue plying his trade at yet another stop in 2015.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!