Nathan Sturgis made his Chivas USA debut on Wednesday, coming off the bench in the Goats' 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. Still, 22 minutes isn't a ton of time to get a full picture of a new player, and so we spoke with Chris White of SB Nation Colorado Rapids blog Burgundy Wave about Sturgis' run in the Rockies. Thanks to Chris for taking the time to give us a scouting report on the newest CUSA player!
It's a bit difficult to come up with a good description of Sturgis because of the odd path his career has taken. He certainly had a fantastic 2013 season -- at least, the majority of the 2013 season -- but before that, he was your garden variety MLS journeyman. He was always a guy with big potential as a defensive midfielder and center back, but he always seemed a bit out of sorts. He was never bad, but he was never great either. An 18th man on the roster-type guy, if you will. This year, he was almost immediately buried down in the depth chart by Pablo Mastroeni, being kept out of minutes by rookie Jared Watts and Nick LaBrocca, who got almost no minutes as a midfielder under Pareja last year but found quick success moving back to his old stomping grounds this season.
Last season, when Sturgis was at his best, he was a passing machine in the midfield and showed a surprising ability to get forward so as to add an extra man into the attack when it was required of him. His four goals last year were by far the most he had ever scored in a season before. Defensively, he wasn't particularly great, but he did enough positionally to help out his defensive midfield partner and the center backs behind him.
The question with Sturgis is if he's actually as good as he showed last season. Playing alongside Hendry Thomas and playing in a Rapids defensive system that was built more on the team defending in essentially a big block of five in the back probably gave him the best chance to succeed that he had ever gotten in his career, and he took it. This season, he hadn't looked particularly good in any of the matches he'd found some minutes in. As it stands, it unfortunately looks like he might have just gotten a big boost out of playing alongside Thomas during his monster 2013 as the Rapids' midfield bulldog. However, the fact that Sturgis did at least show a bit of a spark last year while scoring a few goals along the way should be a promising sign, and it's likely the No. 1 reason why Wilmer Cabrera was happy to bring him into his new team.
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