Chivas USA 2012 Player Postmortem: Blair Gavin

Gavin: Had another tough 2012 - Stephen Dunn

The midfielder is no longer with Chivas USA, but was his departure a loss?

Yesterday, it was announced that the New England Revolution did not pick up Blair Gavin's contract option for 2013. He will go into the Re-entry draft next week, which means that an MLS team can select him and try and sign him to a contract. He has a good reputation around the league, and his injury history has really held him back.

I could see Gavin going to another MLS team and trying to find a situation that works. I could also see Gavin spending some time out of MLS, maybe for good. The truth is that injuries and poor form have set his career back considerably over the past two years, and the fact that he almost never played for New England meant he never had a chance there to show if he could really play for them. It is entirely possible that he finds a situation (perhaps on a better team - there may be a connection between his struggles and the quality of his teams) that is favorable and ends up coming good. But there wasn't much to show for his time on the field with either Chivas or the Revs in 2012.

Let's take a look at Gavin's stats with Chivas in 2012:

Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Card Red Card
MLS Regular Season 9 4 310 0 1 3 2 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 4 4 327 0 0 2 0 1 0
Total 13 8 637 0 1 5 2 1 0

Altogether, in his time with Chivas, Gavin had three league goals (all in his rookie year) and five assists, in 43 appearances. Obviously, had he been healthy, he would have seen the field much more and perhaps gotten in the groove and really picked up from a promising rookie season. Those hamstring injuries cannot be overstated, as he was quite fortunate to even make the field in 2011 after going down early in the season.

But for a player who is taken in the first round of the SuperDraft and touted to be a versatile playmaker and deep-lying distributor, Gavin came up very short. Again, he never got consistent minutes, but when he did, he nearly always looked out of his depth. The game looked like it got too fast for him, and he seldom sparked attacks or contributed to the hockey assists that looked like something he could build his game around.

He was one of only four players to play in all of the Goats' U.S. Open Cup games this season, and ended up playing more minutes in that tournament than in the league. Clearly, Robin Fraser was giving him a chance to get his game right, to see if he could make it. But he underwhelmed even against the lower-league teams. At that point, it was pretty clear that he wasn't going to really get it together, at least in my mind.

When he was traded to New England for Shalrie Joseph, I was pretty happy that Chivas were able to flip Gavin for some value. In hindsight, I don't really think the trade helped Chivas, and may have really hurt them (but more on that later), but I really thought Gavin's trade value had bottomed out. Clearly, New England were desperate to dump Joseph's salary, and essentially took a flyer on Gavin. He made $60,000 in base salary and $80,000 in guaranteed compensation, but even by the league's brutal salary structure, he didn't represent great value for his production. I really think there is a good chance that Gavin goes to the NASL next year, and tries to get some form. We were told a great deal about his talent, but the actual results left far too much to be desired.

Grades:

Scoring Threat: C

As a rookie in 2010, Blair Gavin had 3 goals on 4 shots on goal. Pretty darn efficient. In 2012 with Fraser keeping Gavin on a short leash and playing out of position, it just wasn't there for Gavin. For all the Chivas players who didn't light it up last year (that would be all of them), Gavin has the best excuses.

Playmaker (passing/creativity): A-

Gavin completed 80% of his passes. That would be one thing for a d-mid or a defender who passes the ball backwards to the flanks. Gavin didn't make a whole lot of crosses--3 to be exact. If it had been Gavin who torched Lovel Palmer instead of Ryan Smith for those two assists against the Portland Timbers in their come-from-behind 2-1 win, I'm sure the story of Chivas and Gavin would have a different ending. However we know Gavin is a playmaker who needs the ball at his feet, in the middle of the field which was never going to happen with Fraser.

Defensive: C+

Gavin didn't compile a lot of gaudy defensive stats, but you could always see him working to cut off the passing lanes and getting back on defense.

Some of his passes were sloppy and even led to really bad counter attacks. I took that all into account and looking over his stats. He passed the ball well I thought--and Peter Vagenas will have a higher pass percentage but they are all five feet away.

So I might have given him too much credit on 1. playing out of position and 2. returning from injury. I think he's got the potential to be a very good player and think perhaps the change of scenery can help push that especially if he can stay healthy and fully trust his hamstring.

- Matthew Hoffman

GM's Evaluation:

Oh Blair Gavin. On a slightly personal note, he's the reason I started watching Chivas USA so closely in the first place. I've always been a fan of him and his ability on the ball. When he's healthy and on form, he's a huge offensive threat, similar to what we saw from Nick LaBrocca last season. Remember when we first drafted Gavin? He was really coming into his role on the team as a starter before being sidelined over and over again with hamstring injuries. I don't think he really found his place in this team. His constant injuries didn't help; when he was healthy, he never found a way to link up well with the other players on the field on a consistent basis. Remember the SuperClasico this season (I believe it was the second one) where he was constantly turning over the ball? Gavin seemed to have hit a wall, and maybe a change of scenery was necessary for both parties. He is a promising player who, I hope, will find his place elsewhere.

- Rachna Kapur

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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