Chivas USA 2012 Player Postmortem: Shalrie Joseph

Oh, he served as captain too! *Gulp* - Victor Decolongon

Traded to the Goats late in the season, he struggled to help the team produce anything positive.

Shalrie Joseph was a disaster for Chivas USA in 2012. Arriving in a trade from the New England Revolution at the start of August, the 34 year old proceeded to play in 12 of the Goats' final 14 games, a span in which the team went 0-8-4. They were outscored 32 to 10 in those 12 games, when Joseph split time on the field between defensive midfielder and center back.

Was SJ entirely responsible for Chivas' late season collapse? Of course not. There's plenty of blame to go around. But in that 12 game stretch, I would submit that he only had two good games, against the Revs August 29, when he scored a brace and helped Chivas come back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3, and the 1-1 draw against FC Dallas October 7. The rest of the time, he was poor to flat-out awful, and the insistence on keeping him on the field helped sink the remaining hope the team had at the end of the season.

Consider this: last year, Joseph signed a Designated Player deal with New England, raising his salary and giving him an opportunity to play his whole career with the Revs. Of course, that didn't work out, but Joseph got a bit of a raise (he made $500,000 in guaranteed compensation in 2011, and $554,333.33 in guaranteed comp in 2012) and the prestige that came with being a DP in the league. Kyle McCarthy, a beat writer for the Revolution as well as a national writer, discussed Joseph's contract situation recently on Goal.com, where he dropped this key detail:

Joseph's contract is guaranteed for 2013 after he appeared in a contractually dictated number of matches during the 2012 season.

Does it now make sense? Joseph kept getting thrown in the lineup at least in part because he needed to hit a certain benchmark of games to get his contract picked up for 2013 (I don't know what that number was, but he ended up playing 30 league games altogether in 2012)! And guess who is on the hook for that contract?

Consider the ways in which having to play Joseph messed up Chivas' lineup. For some reason, Robin Fraser preferred Joseph to Oswaldo Minda more often than not late in the season. I know that Joseph has loads of MLS experience, but Minda is younger and was often Chivas' best outfield player game to game in 2012. Prior to Shalrie's arrival, Minda played in 14 of the team's first 20 league games, missing some time because of yellow card suspensions and national team duty. After Joseph joined the team, Minda played in eight of the team's last 14 games, and only started six of those matches.

What about center back? Although they weren't perfect, it certainly looked like Danny Califf and Rauwshan McKenzie were the most competent centerbacks for Chivas in 2012. Joseph was pushed into defense at the end of the season, a position he played intermittently in New England, though he had previously been on the record saying he wanted to be a midfielder. Joseph played the final four games of the season as a center back, while Califf and McKenzie played a combined zero games in that span. It can also be easily argued that Joseph's backline partners in the last four games, John Valencia and Bobby Burling, were not as good as Califf and McKenzie, but why play three inferior defenders (with one being technically out of position) instead of the two steadiest guys?

Here are Joseph's statistics with Chivas USA in 2012:

Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 12 12 1,080 2 1 10 2 3 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 12 12 1,080 2 1 10 2 3 0

Basically, I am not a fan of Shalrie Joseph's 2012 with Chivas. I thought he brought more negative to the table than positive, and pushing out better players in order to get him in the lineup was pretty indefensible. If that lineup turnover was also done in order to facilitate his 2013 option being picked up, then it's even more damning. You want Chivas USA to bring in some DPs? Well, one is already on the books, and he didn't do a whole lot, so be careful what you wish for.

Grades:

Scoring: C+

I'm struggling to be objective here. Primarily a defensive midfielder, any offense Joseph provides could be considered a bonus. However both of his goals came against New England, probably a case where emotions elevated his play. That was the only game, as a Goat, where Joseph had a shot on goal.

Playmaker (Passing/Creativity): C

It's hard to get a read on Joseph as he was added to squad in the midst of the bottom falling out. He had been the dominant figure in New England for so long that he dominated the ball upon his insertion in the lineup with 123 touches in his debut against the Galaxy.

In his 12 starts, he completed 85% of his passes (631 out of 747). While some of those were short range, he would on occasion try to wing the ball out front. To this point, in his short time with Chivas, he is among the team leaders in through balls.

Truth be told, that was what Joseph should have been brought in to do. Joseph seemed to be the perfect counterpart at the defensive midfield with Oswaldo Minda. The 4-2-3-1 is meant to have a hard-charging, yellow card collecting paired with another d-mid who can move forward and can spray the ball all over the field. That partnership never materialized and the two were only on the field when Joseph was moved to a center back role.

Defense: D-

Joseph may be the victim of circumstance but, as the team's highest paid player and a defensive player, having the team's worst goal differential (averaged out per appearance) is damning. It's questionable how much blame can be heaped on him because the two games he did not play Chivas lost 4-0 (RSL) and 1-0 (Columbus).

Player POS GP GS MINS Plus/Minus +/- per game
Shalrie Joseph M 12 12 1080 -22 -1.83
John Valencia D 14 14 1219 -21 -1.50
Ante Jazic D 27 27 2379 -32 -1.19
Miller Bolanos M 24 21 1858 -28 -1.17
Juan Agudelo F 20 16 1391 -23 -1.15
James Riley D-F 32 32 2880 -33 -1.03
Oswaldo Minda M 22 20 1748 -22 -1.00
Casey Townsend F 17 10 907 -15 -0.88
Nick LaBrocca M 29 26 2293 -25 -0.86

- Matthew Hoffman

GM's Evaluation:

The good intentions behind the Shalrie Joseph trade were there, but they never really amounted to much. I think a good part of it was Joseph being played out of position a lot of the time. I mean, a Center Back? I'm still flabbergasted by this. Joseph has the potential to do well in the Chivas USA midfield - he's always been a great player, and this shouldn't be discounted when considering him for the future of this team. I don't see him leaving unless the team can get a lot for him. I just hope Chelís can use him the right way.

- Rachna Kapur

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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