Chivas USA 2012 Player Postmortem: John Valencia

Valencia: A rocky ride in 2012. - Ric Tapia

Valencia joined the team with great optimism - did the move pay off?

Well, the Atletico Junior fans were right.

I wrote that article back in January after Chivas USA signed Colombian defender John Valencia. He was getting ripped by Colombian fans on twitter, and I figured (was hoping?) they were mostly trolling. But they weren't.

He had a few good clearances on the season, but Valencia just wasn't a good center back in 2012. Of course it often takes players time to adjust to a new league, and I suppose in theory, he could slot in better with another season under his belt, but I'm not really eager to see another season of his play, at least for the Goats.

First, he's 30. You would expect him to be somewhere around his peak, especially as a defender at that age. That he was so shaky makes me very nervous. He missed Chivas' first eight games, the first few because of an injury he picked up just before the season opener, and the rest because Rauwshan McKenzie was playing great in his stead. Initially, Robin Fraser went with the in-form player, but then he started playing Valencia. In all of the games he played in 2012, between both competitions, Chivas only won three (two in league play against the Portland Timbers, and one in the U.S. Open Cup). He was single-handedly responsible for failing to properly mark players in his first three games, leading to a net loss of five points during that stretch. If they had even earned 35 points on the season, they wouldn't have finished in last place in the Western Conference!

Here are Valencia's statistics for 2012:

Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 14 14 1,219 0 0 3 1 5 0
U.S. Open Cup 1 1 83 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 15 15 1,302 0 0 3 1 5 0

Valencia only made $50,000 (base salary and guaranteed compensation) in 2012, so he didn't represent an expensive player, although he was second to Danny Califf in base salary among center backs who finished the season with the team (Bobby Burling and McKenzie both made a shade under $50,000). Still, just because he is cheap doesn't mean he was an effective option. I got the feeling as the season went on that Fraser was playing him ahead of McKenzie in part out of respect for the fact that he signed him in the first place, so the team may as well get its money's worth.

Overall, it clearly represents the fact that Chivas need more starter-caliber center backs in the team, period. With Califf gone, and with McKenzie the only one of the group to announce he'll be back next season, there's certainly a hole at the position. Would I be happy with Valencia as a backup in 2013? Not really. It would really be nice if Chivas could pull another David Junior Lopes and flip Valencia for value in the league, but I'm not sure any team will be clamoring to get him after such a tough debut season in MLS.

Grades:

Scoring Threat: C
Valencia managed three shots in his 14 appearances, one of which was on goal.

Playmaker (Passing/Creativity): C
Valencia was decent on his passes. He usually managed to funnel his passes to the flanks and on occasion would lay off the ball to Dan Kennedy to launch it forward.

Defense: B-
Valencia's defensive metrics were decent, but not great. Among the Chivas defenders he was the middle of the group on about every statistic. Upon adjusting his numbers for his time spent on the field he fared better, leading Chivas defenders in tackles (1.92), interceptions (2.95) and clearances (9.08) per 90 minutes. Valencia's temperament often showed itself at the wrong time. Chivas USA is outscored 13-0 in the five games Valencia drew a yellow card.

- Matthew Hoffman

GM's Evaluation:

Admittedly, the time when John Valencia started playing every game (around July/August) was when I stopped watching a lot of Chivas USA games live. Maybe it's a coincedence. However, every time I would go back to review the game, I would find myself asking "Why is this guy on the field and where is Rauwshan McKenzie?" I'm all for having faith in your players, but Robin Fraser, man, when someone is not producing, why are they still on the field? I can't blame the team's demise completely on one guy - this is a team effort here. I am convinced, however, that the team, and the defense, was stronger when Valencia wasn't a started and McKenzie was. I wouldn't keep him for the 2013 season, and would rather have a better, seasoned defender, or someone younger to be a sub behind McKenzie.

- Rachna Kapur

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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