This week, news emerged that new Chivas USA signing Miller Bolaños failed a cocaine test in 2007 and was subsequently suspended for six months. It was a story that was surprising, perhaps, but I wasn't particularly concerned about it, to be honest. Here's why.
First, a disclaimer. I don't condone or encourage drug use, and taking drugs like cocaine can be deadly. Drug abuse reaches all sectors of society, and can ruin lives.
Ok, back to the topic at hand. I would argue that the failed drug test is quite possibly the best thing that could have ever happened to Chivas. Yes, it demonstrates a certain level of risk for a player who has indiscretions in his past, but there are an awful lot of professional soccer players around with indiscretions in their pasts as well. Sometimes, players can never get out of the way of their problems, a la George Best or Adrian Mutu, while others grow up enough that you hardly remember the trouble they were once in.Obviously, for this argument to hold any weight, Bolaños needs to belong to the second, maturing group. But I would submit the biggest evidence that he's moved on is that the failed drug test was all the way back in 2007. He is 21 years old now - you do the math. While taking cocaine was unquestionably stupid, he faced the suspension and restarted his career, with no evidence of another failed test in the meantime. I would be far more concerned if the failed test came in the last year or so, but for a kid like him, that might as well have been decades ago.
Now, why is this situation such a (potential) windfall for Chivas? He's come with high expectations, the likes of which Chivas may never have had in a young player in their history. SB Nation MLS Editor Ryan Rosenblatt gave the signing a rave review when it was announced, and he cannot be considered a Chivas fan full of wishful thinking. In addition, new teammate Oswaldo Minda has seen Bolaños play more than anybody associated with Chivas, and Minda claimed Bolaños was perhaps the second-best player in Ecuador.
If this is indeed the case, that Bolaños' talent is that good, the fact that he was even available to Chivas can give them a chance to benefit each other. If he has the talent to become a star, and can perform to his abilities with the Goats, he could potentially become MLS Best XI-caliber, and that could eventually turn into a more-lucrative contract, either with Chivas or perhaps even a European club. And if he can become such a good player with Chivas, you have to think their fortunes will change for the better as well.
Minus the drug test, Bolaños would perhaps already be in Europe. Is potential and results the same thing? Of course not. He has to prove himself with a new team and in a new country and league. But a past transgression on a teenager's past could turn out to be a windfall, for him and especially for his new team.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!