Chivas USA 2012 Player Postmortem: Paolo Cardozo

Cardozo: Had a rocky season with Chivas USA. - Doug Pensinger

Another player who came over in a trade during the season, today we look at the diminutive Uruguayan.

Paolo Cardozo was acquired early in the 2012 season by Chivas USA from the LA Galaxy in exchange for David Junior Lopes. Taken in the first round of the 2011 SuperDraft, the Uruguayan made 18 league appearances for the Galaxy before moving across the hall.

On one hand, Lopes didn't particularly impress in the preseason and so sending him away seemed like a good move. And if Cardozo could add something to Chivas, it could turn out to be a great value.

In my opinion, the trade was a total wash. I was pretty critical of Cardozo during the season, and my opinion hasn't really softened. Cardozo has played a couple seasons in MLS now - he understands the demands of the game. And I don't think he really contributes anything substantive to the team.

My impressions of Cardozo, both with the Galaxy and Chivas, were that he was all style and no substance. He has a reputation of being a very technically-gifted player, and he can hit a pass like pretty much nobody on the team. But the problem was that he was awful at linking up with teammates, and except for his lone goal, against the Galaxy in the second SuperClasico, he never showed any signs of really having a nose for goal. Imagine: an attacking midfielder who can't connect nearly enough passes with teammates, and who also cannot shoot or score with any regularity. Cardozo had a maddening habit that was a hallmark of the Fraser-era Goats, where he would go on a great dribble through the middle third of the field, move through three or four defenders very craftily, then hit a mental wall at the edge of the opponent's box and usually get stripped or sent a weak pass to a teammate.

He's young (23), he has surprising strength for his very small size, but he just doesn't do enough on the field. He also made $70,000 in base salary ($81,250 in guaranteed compensation), which isn't exorbitant but also isn't really good value. I think Cardozo could make a run with a South American club (maybe even in Mexico), but he really isn't a player worth keeping in 2013 for Chivas USA.

Here are Cardozo's 2012 statistics with Chivas USA:

Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 9 8 621 1 0 11 4 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 2 2 162 0 0 2 0 0 0
Total 11 10 783 1 0 13 4 0 0

Grades:

Scoring Threat: C-

He shot a lot more in his last four games. I don't know whether to draw this up to just having better luck, or if the coaching staff wanted him to take more shots or if just Cardozo saying "enough with this playmaking stuff."

Suffice it to say Cardozo was a better player in with the Galaxy than he was with Chivas, nearly doubling every offensive statistic despite playing only 200 more minutes in 2011. The lone exception, of course, was his solitary goal.

You can make many arguments of why this might be the case (first year on loan, Bruce Arena is a better coach than Robin Fraser, it's easier to look like a playmaker when you can kick the ball to David Beckham), but it's plain to see that Cardozo's impact on Chivas was negligible.

If you want to feel good, Cardozo ranked #316 in the Castrol Index, better than the #374 David Junior Lopes despite playing roughly half the minutes (692 to 1406). You might say Chivas "won" the trade, but it's like swapping a broken rusty lawn mower for a TV with a big crack in it that gets one channel if you squint hard enough but only when someone holds and points the antenna North and its not raining outside.

Playmaker (Passing/Creativity): C-

These were supposed to be Cardozo's strengths but they never seemed to materialize despite Fraser's efforts to keep Cardozo in the middle of the field. In fairness, he did complete 86% of his passes and only once did he get to play a full 90 minutes. Obviously a full offseason and regular playing time would help Cardozo better integrate with the team like with Miller Bolaños.

Defense: C

Cardozo was a decent tackler, winning an average of one tackle a game. He seldom drifted too deep. He is quick but not very fast, meaning he could jump into channels and change direction suddenly but the few times that he tracked back, the counterattack would stall because he was positioned too far back.

- Matthew Hoffman

GM's Evaluation:

Even though Cardozo had a really bad rap from LA Galaxy press and fans for being way too inconsistent and just not producing enough, I still think we benefited from the trade for Lopes. While he didn't get many minutes and infuriated a lot of us, he was involved in a lot of our offensive chances when he did play. We all remember his goal against the Galaxy in a match we want to forget. I'm not saying at all we should keep him, but for what we got from him, it wasn't all that negative. I think his acquisition was an attempt the the team to find a way to play more offensively and bring that threat to the team and it didn't work. He's not someone I'd like to see stay on the roster.

- Rachna Kapur

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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