By Dario Camacho - MIAMI, FL (Aug 10, 2012) US Soccer Players -- “He has been one of the most consistent players in this League. He brings his experience and he will help us make that final push for the playoffs and hopefully MLS Cup.” That’s Chivas USA’s General Manager, Jose Domene, after acquiring former New England great Sharlie Joseph. Once again, the other club from LA is in the thick of the trading game, bringing in big names in hopes, as Domene put it, to bring a Cup home.
If you’ve been keeping up, that’s three significant trades that Chivas USA has managed after the start of the 2012 season. That’s three important names: Juan Agudelo, Danny Califf and now Joseph. Each player carries a certain weight, a reputation of solid foundation from the clubs which they came from. Agudelo the young hopeful starlet, Califf the brute central defender, and now Joseph, the apex that New England owed its midfield and those MLS Cup Final appearances.
Just in name alone, these trades would be viewed as blockbusters. In practice, however, they come with questions. Agudelo could be an American fixture in the future of the National Team. A combination of injuries and the depth chart at forward with his previous club left him sidelined. For Califf, it was trouble with his coach in Philadelphia. It was a similar story for Joseph under new Revolution coach Jay Heaps. All three were in limbo. All three were scooped by a Chivas USA side looking for answers to their own pressing dilemmas.
In Joseph, this is the second go around that Chivas USA has had in trading for another team's designated player. Last year, around the same time, the Goats reached out to aging striker Juan Pablo Angel. It was a short scouting trip, with the Los Angeles Galaxy needing to move Angel to clear a roster spot for Robbie Keane. Angel scored seven goals in 12 games last season for Chivas USA, but his output has fallen off considerably in 2013.
With such a peculiar approach to player acquisition, questions beg to be answered: Has this actually worked for the Goats? For more than a season, Chivas USA has been a team built on hope. Though that's true for most teams, with Chivas USA it's almost always about a player proving another MLS team got it wrong.
That's left Chivas USA in its own form of limbo, floating in the middle of the standings with the Galaxy sit in that final shiny playoff spot in the West. Chivas USA's management can talk about cups, but right now the real measure of success is still simply making the postseason. With twenty games in the books, and seven points behind the Galacticos, a trade to boost the Goat’s fortunes and push them into playoff contention was needed. Not to mention, Chivas USA has four games in hand on the Galaxy. Still, their current form doesn't necessarily make that schedule disparity an obvious advantage. Chivas USA still has to prove, and prove now, that they can do something.
With a woeful 14 goals scored in the season (that’s six less than the next two teams, Columbus and Portland), the offensive output has been an across the board disappointment. They’ve had exactly two games all season where they've scored more than a goal and the struggling Angel is their leading scorer. At Chivas USA, all that takes is knocking in three goals.
Offense is the problem for Chivas USA. Even with Agudelo in the lineup, this is a team that still needs to figure out how to provide for their forwards. Curious then that they would trade for Joseph, a defensive midfielder at heart. As Chivas USA coach, Robin Fraser put it when describing what he sees in Joseph's game: “He's so accomplished, he's a great leader. On the field he gives us more composure, more ideas with the ball.”
Indeed, but that wasn't enough to keep New England interested. Maybe a new setting means a revival. Perhaps, it could work. In spite of the lack of goals to work with, Chivas USA's defense hasn't given in. They've conceded just 21 goals, the best in the League along with Columbus and Sporting KC. Find a way to switch the attack on, and this is a team that could quickly transition to threat in the West.
"It's about me trying to connect the dots, passing the ball forward. If I can get (strikers) the ball in the right situation I think we can be a deadly team," Joseph said.
That's exactly what's needed for a team starving for goals. Fraser and Domene feel they have the personnel capable of scoring, they just needed better service. By bringing in Joseph, they've added an answer while limiting their maneuverability but they believe they've gotten the player that will make a difference right now.
There's optimism in the trade. There is quality in Joseph, but how a 34 year old DP with questionable form can help a side looking for a playoff hope is still 14 games away from being answered. In the game of trades, the Goats are willing to gamble and hope for a revival of an old legend.
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