And so it ends, with Chivas USA's rock the last four seasons, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
The netminder and sometime captain reached some personal milestones in 2014, both by virtue of the quality of his play and due to his sheer staying power, something that was in remarkably short supply in recent years. After Jorge Villafana's departure in the offseason, DK was by far the longest-tenured player on the Goats, joining way back in 2008, back when the team was still good. Only one other player on the roster this past season, Bobby Burling, had been around for Chivas USA's playoff years, and Burling had left the team for a time before returning.
By season's end, DK had the all-time Chivas USA marks in appearances (144 in the league) and shutouts (28), as well as minutes played, continuous tenure with the club, and saves. In 2014, he led the team by quite a margin in games played and minutes, as he was the only one to play more than 30 games, only missing one match across all competitions due to a red card suspension.
And with Erick Torres, Kennedy was the first name on Wilmer Cabrera's sheet every game, just as he had been for Jose Luis Real, and Chelís, and Robin Fraser.
Here were Kennedy's statistics in 2014:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Saves||Goals Allowed||GAA||Shutouts||Win %||Save %||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||33||33||2,957||93||57||1.73||6||27||60||1||1|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||1||120||1||1||0.75||0||0||50||0||0|
Statistically, how did Kennedy do it 2014? Well, he was worse in some categories, including career-worst numbers (for a full season's work) in saves and goals allowed, despite playing the most minutes in a season to date. He did notch more wins in a season than he's ever done before in MLS play, and had an downtick in his GAA, his lowest mark since 2011.
But while I don't think Kennedy had a bad season or dogged it whatsoever, I'm going to submit what is probably a fairly controversial idea: I definitely think DK plateaued in 2014. He didn't have numerous major gaffes that led to goals (even at his best, he's good for one of these a season), and perhaps surprisingly, he ends his CUSA tenure having never given up a 60-yard lob from a clever (and accurate) player catching him way off his line.
But I got the sense that years of losing had drained some of the fight out of him. He could still play great, but most nights even a heroic effort from him would not lead to a win. Who hasn't shown up to work at some point, looked around and thought, "What's the point?" I get the sense that he relaxed ever so slightly, safe in the knowledge that he wasn't going to be replaced in the lineup and also wasn't going to see a change of scenery, given the unlikely nature of a trade or transfer away at this point.
Again, I think he worked hard, but that extra bit of motivation seemed to be lacking, since it was apparent early on once again that Chivas weren't going to the playoffs and his numbers weren't going to be good compared to the rest of the league.
And that's why it's going to be interesting to see how he does with FC Dallas. After apparently beating out Peruvian international Raul Fernandez, who won't be returning, the Texas side took DK in the Dispersal Draft and now have a genuine goalkeeper battle on their hands. While Kennedy has played far more games than the returning Chris Seitz, the latter has already beaten out Fernandez and has shown well in the time he has been on the field. I honestly don't think there's a starter penned in yet for 2015, and Kennedy and Seitz will either have a major battle in the preseason or they will platoon in the spot during the year, like Oscar Pareja did last year.
Given the new location and FCD's status as a playoff team last year, should Kennedy become the starter he will surely see better numbers and may finally get his long-awaited turn back in the postseason. That may give him the edge he needs to ratchet up his effort and motivation levels, and he may find a second wind at 32, which is still the peak of most GKs' careers.
Regardless of how 2014 turned out, and losing the team altogether was pretty bad, Dan Kennedy was a fantastic representative of Chivas USA and deserved better than the years of turmoil he encountered. It's a shame his excellent play the last four years won't be remembered in the way it should, but I think he's a class act who deserves to see some success come his way. Hopefully he'll find that in the next phase of his career.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!