CARSON, CA - MARCH 26: Still the only accessible photo of Bowen in a Chivas kit (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Reports coming out the last couple days have indicated that Chivas USA forward Tristan Bowen's loan is about to end, and he may be returning to the Goats. He's been on loan to KSV Roeselare, a midtable team in the Belgian second division, and he's made 23 appearances this season between the league and Belgian Cup. Scott French notes in his article on Bowen from Monday on ESPN that Bowen's minutes add up to about 10 full matches in playing time, so it seems he is a rotation player there. He's scored three goals as well.
With KSV's season nearing its end, Chivas' front office needs to decide what they want to do with Bowen. They could loan him out again, either back to KSV, to another club abroad, or perhaps even to an NASL or USL club. They could choose to bring him back to the club and put him in the mix in a forward pool that is very much in flux at this point beyond Juan Pablo Angel. Or they could try to sell him or cut him altogether.As I wrote when Bowen's loan deal was announced last August, I'm not sure if getting a loan to a club that is made up of a combination of professional and amateurs in a second division of a smaller European country was necessarily the best situation for a young player. There's playing in Europe as a positive move in a promising player's career, and there's playing in Europe just for the sake of playing in Europe. Bowen is young, at 21 years old, and French notes that the benefit of the loan, no matter the circumstances, is that Bowen got much more playing time than he could have hoped for with Chivas. After being traded to Chivas from the Galaxy prior to the 2011 season, Bowen only had three appearances, as an ankle injury prevented him from really winning over Robin Fraser.
That's the big question concerning Bowen: can he really hack it? He was the first homegrown player signed in MLS, but he's played quite a bit more with the Galaxy than with Chivas, and yet he's only made about 20 MLS appearances altogether in his career. Obviously, there's been signs that he can be a good professional, and circumstances with the Los Angeles clubs have hurt his ability to get a real shot to find a place in the rotation. But the jury is very much still out on whether he can contribute.
Both French's article and Adam Serrano's weekly column on the league website note that Jose Domene will be evaluating Bowen in the coming weeks in order to decide what the team should do. I think we won't have a good sense of his abilities until he's given a chance to play in a public setting for a sustained period, but the loan could have helped the young striker gain experience and game reps that will help him moving forward. And there's something to be said for a player who moves abroad and lives and works away from his support network, if he can hack it. It looks like Bowen has done that in Belgium. Regardless of what happens with Bowen and Chivas this year, hopefully the experience helps him in his professional development.
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