We're moving on up the chart of minutes played for Chivas USA in 2011, and today we will be reviewing the season of Mariano Trujillo. A fan favorite, Trujillo was the only Mexican-born player who featured on the first team this year and remained on the squad through the entire season. Given his role as team captain in 2010, Trujillo had in many respects a fairly disappointing season in 2011, but as a 34 year old, perhaps he can't expect to be much more than a squad player at this point in his career.
Trujillo featured in 12 matches in 451 minutes this season, but did not start a single match. On the depth chart, he was the second full back off the bench, as Michael Lahoud was often the first substitute for Ante Jazic and Zarek Valentin, so although he featured in about a third of the games this season, he didn't see much time. That said, his offensive production was surprisingly good, as he scored a goal and two assists on the season. In particular, his goal came in the best possible moment, as he got the game winner against the San Jose Earthquakes on April 23, Chivas' first victory of the season and a come from behind win.
Like his compatriot Panchito Mendoza, Trujillo seemed disgruntled at times this year, but he evidently was a team player, as he saw limited action and was not released in the middle of the season like Mendoza. It was certainly disappointing for Trujillo personally to be demoted to the bench, but he seemed like a solid full back option off the bench. Still, considering he was listed as receiving a guaranteed salary a shade under $100,000, as well as his advancing age, I wonder if he will be retained next season. Michael Lahoud's salary is $72,735, and Lahoud is much younger and a better option off the bench, his occasional inconsistency notwithstanding. This will probably be a tough decision for the Chivas front office, especially if they are looking to add players and their budget remains characteristically tight. Also, the fact that Robin Fraser never opted to start him a single time this season indicates that he was nothing more than a depth player, and will not be a starter moving forward with Chivas unless something drastic happens further up the depth chart.
That said, Trujillo is an undeniable fan favorite and is pretty active in the community. Considering he played sporadically this season, if he's used in a similar fashion in the future, he could provide depth and not get worn out from excessive playing time. Certainly, injuries could prove to be a problem in any season, and cannot be foreseen, and it is unlikely Chivas will seek to pick up a full back this offseason. As a result, I think it's likely he will be back with the Goats in 2012, but I don't think it is an automatic assumption. He's a professional, and if he returns, I expect he will continue to help the team in whatever capacity he can.