Chivas USA 2012 Player Postmortem: Oswaldo Minda

Minda doing his job, winding up KFC in 2012. - Mike Stobe

The Ecuadorian international slotted in right away. How was his season?

For all of the poor signings made the past few years, there were a few good ones mixed in. Where does Oswaldo Minda rank? He's got to be one of the best, right? A defensive midfielder who wasn't afraid to get stuck in for his team, the import from Ecuador became one of Chivas USA's top players in 2012, perhaps only behind Dan Kennedy. Coming off a title with Deportivo Quito, the 29 year old was an unknown quantity in MLS, but it was hoped he would come through for the Goats.

Minda came through in a big way. Although the calls died down as other candidates in one of the league's deepest positions set themselves apart, those who watched Minda regularly early in the season believed he was a bona fide MLS All-Star candidate. That it took Dan Kennedy a year and a half to be recognized for his fantastic play, and given Chivas' uneven record through the first half of the season, it isn't surprising that Minda was ultimately overlooked, but he became one of the Goats' automatic starters. Except for the yellow card suspensions, of course.

The headline with Minda in 2012 is that he led the league in yellow cards, with 13. That would indicate that Minda is reckless and undisciplined, but that doesn't tell the whole story. In MLS, defensive midfielders must pick up yellow cards from time to time if they are to control the middle of the field, doing the dirty work that the other players can't or won't perform. Disrupting play with small fouls, stopping the attack with a last-ditch tackle, Minda was willing to do it. And he was willing to get under the skin of his opponents, too, providing a "pest" role that is also a hallmark of the best defensive mids. He didn't draw any red cards, but he also didn't earn any red cards, either, a remarkable fact considering how many yellows he picked up. On a couple of occasions, it appeared that Robin Fraser took him off early in a game to prevent a second yellow, but still, to lead the league in yellows and never pick up a red is quite an accomplishment.

These were Minda's statistics in 2012:

Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 22 20 1,748 1 0 17 3 13 0
U.S. Open Cup 1 1 90 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 23 21 1,838 1 0 17 3 14 0

Minda scored his goal, the winner, against Toronto FC early in the season. He seemed to get somewhat more comfortable progressing the attack as the season wore on, which is good, because he was really lost the closer he got to goal in the early months of the season. Still, an ideal set-up would be to have Minda playing the midfield destroyer, and having a true playmaker playing alongside him, doing the bulk of the ballwork.

What was puzzling late in the season was that Minda was benched, mostly in favor of Shalrie Joseph. I've already expressed my displeasure with Joseph's disruptive role in the lineup after he was traded to Chivas, but the point stands - why on earth did Robin Fraser continue to keep Minda on the bench? He only featured in half of the team's final 14 games, and a couple of those were late substitute appearances. Seriously, bringing Minda on as a late sub? Yeah, that logic, if there was any, just didn't hold up.

So, the big question is whether Minda will be back next season. I think the indications are likely he will. He is technically a Designated Player, due to his transfer fee (not his salary, which was $50,000 in base salary, and $68,750 in guaranteed compensation). It is unlikely that a club would bring in a DP on a one year deal, although there may be option terms on either side. Still, he was one of Chivas' bright spots in a bad season, he does his job better than just about anybody on the team, and he is Latino and should slot in the new demographic turn the club is after just fine. Put another way, I look forward to seeing what Minda can do in season two with the Goats.

Grades:

Scoring threat: C+
Minda's strength is in his defensive game but he still made contributions on the offensive end. Minda is one of seven Goats to have a game winning goal and his shooting was economical.

Playmaker (Passing/Creativity): C
Prior to August, Minda was for 2-for-3 on crossing attempts. From then out he was 3-for-10 including an 0-for-5 August. Whether Minda was following specific coaching instructions or if he was just trying to make something happen, it failed to generate a spark and in fact probably left Chivas susceptible to a counterattack. However, it was Minda's through ball to Jose Correa that set up the game winning penalty shot for the victory against the LA Galaxy.

Defense: B+
The first thing people recognize about Minda is his yellow card accumulation because only one other player in the league hit double-digits in cautions--and at ten, Diego Chara of Portland barely cusps Minda's rarefied air.

Heading into 2013 it's particular to note that Minda did not foul at the same clip as he was carded. In fact--technically at least--he doesn't even lead Chivas in fouls committed. That would be Shalrie Joseph (I did say "technically", right?). Minda isn't even in the top 30 MLS players in fouls committed.

- Matthew Hoffman

GM's Evaluation:

Minda was another surprise this season. I am the first to admit that I had zero idea of how he would fit into this team when he signed - I don't follow any South American leagues/players, and had never heard of him before. He did however, surprise us all. Minda was the most consistent contributor to the Goats this season. The most frustrating thing about him though, was his penchant for picking up cards. He was suspended way too much, and should he stay around, really needs to work on that. When you're the best defensive threat on the team, we can't afford to have you not playing.

- Rachna Kapur

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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