CARSON CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Bye, Michael. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Chivas USA defender Michael Umana has signed with Guatamalan champion side Comunicaciones, according to reports. Everardoherrera.com had an interview with Umana confirming the move (in Spanish), and Goal.com (Spanish) also reporting the move today. Although a few rumors had been circulating recently about Umana possibly going to Guatemala, this move still comes as quite a surprise. After starting the 2011 season on the bench for Chivas, Umana played his way into the starting lineup for the final two-thirds of the campaign. Based on the signals the club's front office and coaching staff had given in previous player personnel moves so far this offseason, it seemed Umana was firmly in the team's plans for 2012.
Umana was one of the fortunate eleven protected in last month's Expansion Draft, at the expense of Zarek Valentin, who is of course gone after the Montreal Impact selected him. The player Umana replaced in the starting lineup, Andrew Boyens, was selected by the LA Galaxy earlier this month, so he is also gone. Mariano Trujillo is not a center back, and he could return to the team yet, but he is currently out of contract. So this latest departure leaves Chivas very bare at defense. Currently, the only defenders on the roster are Ante Jazic, Heath Pearce, James Riley, David Junior Lopes, Michael Lahoud, and if you want to include occasional defenders, Ben Zemanski and Jorge Villafana. Looks like Chivas need a center back (or two) ASAP.Of course, while losing a veteran defender who also happens to be involved in his national team (he's been recalled to Costa Rica's National Team multiple times since the fall) hurts, and while Chivas definitely need to move to find a replacement, you are probably aware that I didn't think Umana was the greatest center back. When I saw him at full back last season, I thought he looked quite good, but in the middle he just did not inspire much confidence. Now that he's gone, it is of course possible that Chivas could struggle further on the defensive end in 2012, a prospect that makes me wince. But I think it won't be too hard to find a replacement-level player for Umana, and I think there are better center backs that I hope Chivas can get. I don't want to speak ill of the guy as he's leaving, as he always played hard, but he was my scapegoat in 2011, so I am not as upset about this departure as I was for Valentin or Justin Braun. I hope Chivas have a contingency plan, and I hope Umana is successful at Comunicaciones.
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