Chivas USA have not been a very good team the past few years. That fact cannot be disputed. However, lately, as I've kept tabs on what recent former Chivas USA players have been doing, I've wondered if the signings in recent years, many of whom have come and gone at a rapid rate, tells us much regarding the general quality of the players who have come in.
Of course, thinking about what league a player played in before or after playing for the Goats is not objective. Great players may go because they are retiring, or because of personal reasons. Maybe they left because they wanted to -- maybe they wanted to stay but weren't able to. And there are no good ways to really determine which leagues are better than others. Is it better to be in a third-rate European league or a second-rate South American one? What about a first-rate Central American league? And what's the gulf in quality between the three pro American leagues? Sorry, I'm not going to make those judgment calls here.
Still, in what may be the nerdiest thing I've ever written on here, I present the work I've cobbled together of late. I've examined all of the players who have played for Chivas USA from 2011-13. I picked those years because there's an archive of information on those players on this website, and because most of them are still playing and in their prime playing years. I did not include players who were signed after the 2013 season, since they (or nearly all of them) currently play for the Goats, and I didn't want to skew the current numbers.
Here's a table of all the players who fit under the timeline (remember, 2011-13 with CUSA):
|Name||Club prior to Chivas USA (league)||Time with CUSA||Club after CUSA (league)||Current club (league)/status|
|Juan Agudelo||New York Red Bulls (MLS)||2012-13||New England Revolution (MLS)||FC Utrecht (Eredivisie), on loan from Stoke City (EPL)|
|Carlos Alvarez||Amateur, UConn (NCAA)||2013-present|
|Juan Pablo Angel||LA Galaxy (MLS)||2011-12||Atletico Nacional (Colombian 1st div)||Atletico Nacional|
|Daniel Antunez||FC Inter Turku (Finnish 1st div)||2013||Arizona United SC (USL PRO)||Arizona United|
|Eric Avila||Toronto FC, via Colorado Rapids (MLS)||2013-present|
|Carlos Bocanegra||Racing Santander (Spanish 2nd div), via Rangers (Scottish 3rd div)||2013-present|
|Miller Bolanos||LDU Quito (Ecuadorian 1st div)||2012-13||Emelec (Ecuadorian 1st div)||Emelec|
|Carlos Borja||Los Angeles Blues (USL PRO)||2013-14||Free agent|
|Tristan Bowen||LA Galaxy (MLS)||2011-2013||Seattle Sounders (MLS)||Seattle Sounders|
|Andrew Boyens||New York Red Bulls (MLS)||2011||LA Galaxy (MLS)||Retired, LA Galaxy Academy coach|
|Justin Braun||Amateur||2008-11||Montreal Impact (MLS)||Sacramento Republic (USL PRO)|
|Bobby Burling||San Jose Earthquakes, via Montreal Impact (MLS)||2012-present|
|Danny Califf||Philadelphia Union (MLS)||2012||Toronto FC (MLS)||Retired|
|Paolo Cardozo||LA Galaxy (MLS)||2012||Cartagines (Costa Rican 1st div)||Cartagines|
|Giovani Casillas||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||2013||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||Chiapas FC, on loan from Chivas (Liga MX)|
|Jimmy Conrad||Kansas City Wizards (MLS)||2011||Retired||Media personality|
|Jose Correa||Boyaca Chico (Colombian 1st div)||2012-present||Loan: Gimnasia La Plata (Argentine 1st div)||Loan: Gimnasia|
|Chris Cortez||Amateur||2011||LA Blues (USL PRO)||Orange County Blues (USL PRO)|
|Laurent Courtois||Grenoble (French 2nd div)||2011-13||LA Galaxy (MLS)||LA Galaxy II (USL PRO)|
|Bryan de la Fuente||Free agent, via Chivas USA U-23s||2013||Free agent|
|Mario de Luna||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||2013||Puebla, on loan from Chivas de Gdl (Liga MX)||Puebla|
|Marky Delgado||Amateur, via Chivas USA Academy||2011-present|
|Simon Elliott||Wellington Phoenix (A-League)||2011||Retired|
|Victor Estupinan||LDU Quito (Ecuadorian 1st div)||2011||Universidad Catolica (Ecuadorian 1st div)||Deportivo Quito (Ecuadorian 1st div)|
|Gabriel Farfan||Philadelphia Union (MLS)||2013-present||Loan: Chiapas FC (Liga MX)||Loan: Chiapas FC|
|Jaime Frias||Chivas de Guadalajara Academy||2013||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||Indy Eleven (NASL)|
|Blair Gavin||Amateur, Akron University (NCAA)||2010-12||New England Revolution (MLS)||Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)|
|Scott Gordon||Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL)||2012||Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL)||Fort Lauderdale Strikers|
|Marvin Iraheta||New York Cosmos Academy||2012-13||Chivas USA U-23 (amateur)||Chivas USA U-23|
|Ante Jazic||LA Galaxy (MLS)||2009-12||Retired|
|Shalrie Joseph||New England Revolution (MLS)||2012||Seattle Sounders (MLS)||New England Revolution (MLS)|
|Dan Kennedy||Municipal Iquique (Chilean 1st div)||2008-present|
|Nick LaBrocca||Toronto FC (MLS)||2011-12||Colorado Rapids (MLS)||Colorado Rapids|
|Michael Lahoud||Amateur, Wake Forest (NCAA)||2009-12||Philadelphia Union (MLS)||Philadelphia Union|
|David Junior Lopes||Universitatea Craiova (Romanian 1st div)||2011-12||LA Galaxy (MLS)||Free agent|
|Gerson Mayen||Amateur, via Chivas USA Academy||2008-11||Los Angeles Misioneros (USL PDL)||FAS (Salvadorian 1st div)|
|Rauwshan McKenzie||Real Salt Lake (MLS)||2012||Portland Timbers (MLS)||Portland Timbers|
|Patrick McLain||Amateur, Cal Poly (NCAA)||2012-13||Orange County Blues (USL PRO)||OC Blues|
|Edgar Mejia||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||2013||Puebla, on loan from Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||Puebla|
|Tim Melia||Real Salt Lake (MLS)||2012-present|
|Francisco Mendoza||Indios de Ciudad Juarez, on loan from Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||2011||Santos de Guapiles (Costa Rica 1st div)||Delfines FC (Ascenso MX)|
|Oswaldo Minda||Deportivo Quito (Ecuadorian 1st div)||2012-present|
|Marcos Mondaini||Centro Atletico Fenix (Uruguayan 1st div)||2011||Emelec (Ecuadorian 1st div)||Emelec|
|Julio Morales||Chivas de Guadalajara Academy||2013||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||Chivas de Guadalajara|
|Paulo Nagamura||Tigres UANL (Liga MX)||2010-11||Sporting Kansas City (MLS)||Sporting KC|
|Emilio Orozco||Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL), on loan from Tigres UANL (Liga MX)||2013||Free agent|
|Seth Owusu||2011||Golden Arrows (South African 1st div)||Golden Arrows|
|Heath Pearce||FC Dallas (MLS)||2011-12||New York Red Bulls (MLS)||Montreal Impact (MLS)|
|Martin Ponce||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||2013||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||Unknown|
|Steve Purdy||Portland Timbers (MLS)||2013||Free agent|
|James Riley||Seattle Sounders, via Montreal Impact (MLS)||2012||D.C. United (MLS)||LA Galaxy (MLS)|
|Jose Manuel Rivera||RoPS (Finnish 2nd division)||2013||Free agent|
|Cesar Romero||Tijuana Revolucion (Professional Arena Soccer League)||2012||Free agent|
|Ryan Smith||Sporting Kansas City (MLS)||2012||Skoda Xanthi (Greek Super League)||Free agent|
|Josue Soto||San Antonio Scorpions (NASL), on loan from Houston Dynamo (MLS)||2013||San Antonio Scorpions (NASL)||San Antonio Scorpions|
|Zach Thornton||New York Red Bulls (MLS)||2008-11||Retired||College coach|
|Erick Torres||Chivas de Guadalajara (Liga MX)||2013-present|
|Casey Townsend||Amateur, Maryland (NCAA)||2012||D.C. United (MLS)||Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)|
|Mariano Trujillo||Atlante (Liga MX)||2009-11||Jaguares de Chiapas (Liga MX)||Retired, media personality|
|Michael Umana||Liberia Mia (Costa Rican 1st division)||2010-11||Comunicaciones (Guatemalan 1st division)||Saprissa (Costa Rican 1st division)|
|Peter Vagenas||Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS)||2012||Retired||Academy director, LA Galaxy|
|John Valencia||Atletico Junior (Colombian 1st division)||2012||Deportes Tolima (Colombian 1st division)||Deportes Tolima|
|Zarek Valentin||Amateur, Akron (NCAA)||2011||Montreal Impact (MLS)||Bodo/Glimt (Norwegian 1st division)|
|Joaquin Velazquez||Free agent; last played for Puebla (Liga MX)||2013||Free agent/retired|
|Walter Vilchez||Sporting Cristal (Peruvian 1st division)||2013||UTC (Peruvian 1st division)||UTC|
|Jorge Villafana||Amateur||2007-13||Portland Timbers (MLS)||Portland Timbers|
|Ben Zemanski||Amateur, Akron (NCAA)||2010-12||Portland Timbers (MLS)||Portland Timbers|
|Caleb Calvert||Amateur, via Chivas USA Academy||2013-present|
|Carlo Chueca||R.A.E.C. Mons (Belgian 1st division)||2013||Free agent|
|Alejandro Moreno||Philadelphia Union (MLS)||2011-12||Retired||Media personality|
It's interesting looking at all that information, isn't it? Well, if you are still with me, you probably think so. Let's look at some breakdowns of players whereabouts before and after Chivas.
First, let's see where the U.S.-based players came from before Chivas:
Contrary to the idea that Chivas didn't really look to MLS to pick up players, the statistics indicate otherwise. Of course, breaking down the comparisons between the Robin Fraser era and the Chelís/Real era could prove illuminating, but that's some nerdery for another time.
Besides the strong MLS connection, the USL connection is very weak, which was a surprise to me. It feels like Chivas are signing players from that league all the time, but in fact, that has been a very recent phenomenon, not even one that stretches back the past three years.
Let's see where CUSA players came from before joining the club outside of the United States:
This graph is no surprise at all, really. The overwhelming majority of players coming in from abroad have come from Latin America, with Mexico alone accounting for close to half of the total.
Ok, so for the players who moved on, where did they go right after Chivas? Let's look at this graph:
Again, MLS dominates by a substantial margin, with the combined category of free agents and retired players coming up next. On a macro level, what does that tell us? A substantial portion of players who moved on were coveted by MLS teams, while a smaller but still substantial portion of players either retired or had difficulty even finding a new club. Basically, the trends diverge, with Latin America overall being the third main choice for players.
Ok, so what's the picture today? Are all the players dropping into the lower leagues? Retiring or having trouble latching onto a new team?
The same divergent path manifests itself, with CUSA and the rest of MLS combined edging out free agents and retired players for most popular "destination." However, in the interim, the rise of more teams and more infrastructure poured into American lower league soccer has probably given former Goats a chance to play there, as there has been a spike in the number of players in USL PRO and NASL.
In case you are wondering what the breakdown between current free agents and retired players is, it's basically split down the middle:
We tend to look at the career path for players of a certain team on an individual level, and for good reason. There is context surrounding every player's move, both in and out of the club, whenever that happened. These numbers aren't meant to make any sweeping statements about the quality of players, but it is interesting that despite Chivas' status near the very bottom of the league standings the last three years, they still have a fair number of players who make their way in MLS as well as other decent leagues around the world and indicates the players themselves can't bear the full brunt of criticism of on-field performance of late.
Of course, we know that, what with the frequent coaching changes and the constant front office and ownership turmoil. But it's worth reinforcing the notion that given more stability at the club, CUSA teams in recent years may not have been title contenders, but they likely would have been better than what we witnessed. In that respect, consider this piece a plea to the next owners to have a good plan and to make stability (while building for positive improvement) a hallmark of their plan for the team. A little TLC could go farther than one might think.
And it's worth noting that these figures haven't been compared to other MLS teams roster turnover and leagues before and after playing for their teams. I'd love to see some comparisons, but there are only so many hours in the day, and I don't have the same knowledge base of other teams. Maybe some other nerdy souls will make similar investigations at some point.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!