Chivas USA have one player who's responsible for two-thirds of their goals in 2014. Thank goodness for him, or this team, which despite still sitting in the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference has improved from last season, would probably be at the bottom of the whole league due to offensive futility.
Yes, despite Erick Torres' very strong season, Chivas USA have scored the fewest goals in the entire league to date, and no player besides Cubo has scored more than two goals. Needless to say, he's helping paper over some massive cracks.
But there is a forward who was on Chivas USA this season who's gone on to become a pretty regular contributor at a new team. I'm talking, of course, about Luke Moore, who basically had a cup of coffee with the Goats before getting traded to Toronto FC in May, a deal that indirectly brought Ryan Finley to CUSA.
Let's compare Moore and Finley's MLS numbers this year before and after coming to Chivas:
|Player||Games with CUSA||G/A with CUSA||Games with other MLS team||G/A with other MLS team|
* Finley does have one competitive goal for Chivas USA, in the U.S. Open Cup.
The point of this is not to really compare Moore and Finley directly, since Finley is only a second-year pro and is 23 years old while Moore is 28. Perhaps, just perhaps, Finley has a higher ceiling over the course of the players' remaining careers.
But after kind of cruising around the field at a leisurely pace with Chivas in his initial appearances, never really legging it to make runs or get on the end of balls from teammates, Moore looked like a bust. Then again, he came off the bench in five of those six games with the Goats and only played 187 minutes total with the club. Was it a fair sample size?
Indications are that it wasn't, since a switch was flipped after he went to TFC, and he's looked like a totally different player. Playing as a support striker to compatriot Jermain Defoe and Gilberto, Moore has solidified his status as a starter in Canada, makes the runs and cleans up the scraps not converted by the other strikers. In other words, he's been a great fit.
So what happened? Did Chivas simply fail to make any productive use of him? Did they give up on him too early? Did he change his ways and get serious after going to Toronto?
The short answer is we don't know, but it's likely a combination of factors. When he was with Chivas, coach Wilmer Cabrera was using a single striker formation, and Torres was getting the starter's minutes. So Moore was forced to play minutes at the end of games, and never really found his footing. He seems to get decent service in Toronto, something CUSA perpetually struggles with, and playing alongside a marquee name like Defoe (who, it must be remembered, was trained in the same basic system in England as Moore) has certainly made his job easier with his new club.
But Finley doesn't look like an MLS-ready striker, and Moore looks to be getting better and better as the season rolls along with his new club. In that light, were the trades that indirectly swapped the players worth it? Based on the evidence at hand, no. Maybe Cabrera tried to make the best of the situation after some other foreign moves (Dani Fragoso, Adolfo Bautista, though the latter was not brought in by Cabrera) flopped hard.
And we should perhaps not judge the CUSA regime too harshly on the striker swap, since we have the benefit of hindsight and they didn't. But every time Moore scores for TFC, and players other than Cubo don't, the decision by Chivas USA to get rid of Moore is going to look worse.
What do you think? Leave a comment below?