Chivas USA 2011 Postmortem: Simon Elliott

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Elliott: The graybeard provided leadership in 2011 (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

For today's Chivas USA season review, we turn to midfielder Simon Elliott. The veteran Kiwi joined Chivas in 2011 from the A-League's Wellington Phoenix, although he had a long career previously in MLS, playing for the San Jose Earthquakes, the LA Galaxy, and Columbus Crew. It was pretty clear that Elliott was brought to Chivas by Robin Fraser to provide experience to a very young team. At 37, Elliott was the oldest outfield player for the Goats in 2011, but his impact was quite significant.

Elliott played in 24 matches in 2011 (21 starts), and was a fixture as a holding midfielder for much of the season. Although he was probably projected to be the backup defensive midfielder coming into the season, the persistent injury problems for Paulo Nagamura pushed Elliott to the starting spot. And although the captain's armband passed around the team during the season, Elliott served as the captain for a stretch through the middle of the season. Can't say there's a better endorsement than that for a player's importance to a team.

As a defensive midfielder, Elliott was not really tasked with scoring, although he did contribute two assists on the season. Instead, he was there to provide cover for the backline, try and control the midfield, play the ball out of the back, take set pieces, and be an onfield general. I think he performed three of those duties very well. The best thing he did was distributing the ball forward, and his passes were often terrific. He was also very good at getting his teammates organized and yelling out directions on the field, which was often necessary for a team that was largely new and quite young. He was able to provide a physical element in the midfield, and was capable of bossing opposing midfields at times, despite his advanced age. But he was not very good at set pieces, a persistent problem for Chivas in 2011, and Marcos Mondaini took over the duties towards the end of the season. Finally, Elliott was fearless in defense, which was quite dangerous, as he would often go for clearances in Chivas' box that were hopeful at best and fatal at worst. Obviously, no player is perfect, but Elliott's maddening habit of sticking his leg out to reach a high ball and find the ball loop towards goal was a problem. So on the whole, Elliott probably contributed more good traits than bad, but he was a classic "take the good with the bad" type of player.

For now, Elliott's future is in doubt. Chivas left him unprotected for the Expansion Draft, but he was of course not selected by the Montreal Impact because Zarek Valentin was taken. He's currently out of contract, and was not selected by any club in the recent re-entry draft. Again, at 37, he's probably not a hot commodity, although he might have a season or so left in him. Will it be with Chivas?

I think there's a chance Elliott could be signed to another one-year contract, but my inclination is that the team will be looking for younger players in the position. I think it is time to put Ben Zemanski in as the main holding midfielder for Chivas. He's young, but he's gotten a lot of experience in his first two seasons, and I think he's capable of making the jump to a fixture in the lineup as defensive midfielder. If that's the case, Elliott could come back, but I would hope he would play fewer minutes in 2012 as the backup. He made $75,000 in base salary for Chivas in 2011, which isn't that expensive, but if he did return, I would assume he would get a lower offer from the front office. I'm not against him returning, and I appreciate his contributions last season, but I think Chivas can probably move on in 2012.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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