Chivas USA 2012 Player Postmortem: Miller Bolaños

Bolaños: Hustled in 2012. - Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

The Ecuadorian came to the Goats with lofty praise. How did he perform in 2012?

He was pretty inconsistent, like the rest of his teammates, but I'd argue that Miller Bolanos made out better in 2012 than other Chivas USA players. Obtained in the offseason from LDU Quito (which is now being raided by other MLS teams this offseason), Bolaños came with very lofty praise, but was largely unknown in North America. Would the 21-year old come through?

He finished the season as the top combined scorer, and I argued near the end of the campaign that he should be considered the team's offensive MVP, and I stand by that assessment. Again, I realize that crowning an offensive MVP for the 2012 Chivas USA is the very height of damning with faint praise, but within the club, it can't be denied that Bolaños produced more than anybody else.

Here were Bolaños' statistics for 2012:

Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 24 21 1,858 3 4 68 20 5 0
U.S. Open Cup 1 1 39 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 25 22 1,897 3 4 68 20 5 0

Let's go through the good and bad of Bolaños' game. He played well as a creative midfielder at times. He wasn't really an all-out winger, instead cutting in from the right on a regular basis. I think his diminutive build meant he struggled as a central playmaker, but pushed out to the right, he could take advantage of his speed and skill and find seams to attack opponents. He also liked mixing it up and scuffling with opponents, sometimes doing some borderline dirty things, but he showed a fiery streak that Chivas sorely lacked across the roster in 2012. And for a team that has been shy to get off shots for years, he was the only one willing to shoot over and over and over again in 2012. As Matt will explain below, you can't completely laud him for shooting wildly for the sake of doing it, but the fact that he was the only player to show any regular willingness to shoot is notable.

Among the negatives in his game, is his accuracy in shooting, his general inconsistency, and the clear reputation he picked up over the course of the season. It was clear by the end of the term that MLS referees had been put on notice about Bolaños, as his ability to draw fouls early in the season evaporated, and he clearly gained a reputation as a diver. I think it is clear that he did dive on a regular basis, but he also took a ton of physical punishment, and the leeway he got early on was nowhere to be found at the end of the season. Ideally, it would be nice to see him cut down on some of the diving and get smarter about where he selected to dive. That's not easy to do, but it is certainly possible.

The massive question hanging over Bolaños is whether he'll be back with the Goats in 2013. Once again, it bears noting that due to Major League Soccer's secrecy regarding contracts, teams are under no obligation to discuss terms of player signings, and Chivas' history as a secretive club means that we have no idea about the terms of his deal. There are some indications that he was on a loan in 2012, and so it may have been for one year, it may be for longer, or it may include a clause to buy after a year. So, if he is on loan, is he going straight back to Ecuador? Does the new regime at Chivas USA want him back? I think if they dropped him without bringing in a clear and consistent upgrade, it's going to send a message to fans and opponents: they aren't serious about winning. If they don't retain the useful talent they have, then prepare for another terrible season.

Grades:

Scoring threat: B

Miller has been probably our most dangerous player consistently over the past five or six games ... He keeps coming in, he keeps finding ways to get shots off. I think he's looked very active in the attack, has looked very much like he wants to take some responsibility for this team to be dangerous in the attacking third.

--Former Chivas USA assistant coach Greg Vanney

Bolanos played sparingly at first--only subbing on for 46 minutes in the Chivas' first five games. However his fitness improved and his work on the right wing, as Vanney's comment alluded to, forced Robin Fraser's hand and the youngster managed to play all but 218 minutes of the Rojiblancos final 17 games.

Bolanos was a volume shooter. In other words: He shot. A lot. He finished the season leading the team with 68 shots, 20 of which were on goal. Some shots were better than others.

With a season under his belt, Bolaños would help the team if he could improve his shot selection. Several of his shots, for instance against Columbus, were hit right to the keeper. Other shots, such as the one below, just were not even close.

If we were to go by the original MLS 1996 scoring standard--where assists were added with goal tallies--then Bolaños would be the team's leading scorer with four assists and three goals. Having said that, Bolaños was among the least efficient of Chivas' scorers. His conversion rate of 3 goals for 20 shots on goal was last amongst the few goal scorers on the team.

Player Goals SOG
Jose Correa 2 3
Juan Pablo Angel 4 18
Juan Agudelo 3 13
Alejandro Moreno 2 5
Nick LaBrocca 2 14
Miller Bolaños 3 20

Playmaker (Passing/Creativity): A-
Once Bolaños was inserted on the right flank, the entire offense seemed to flow through him. Unfortunately Bolaños was almost too effective as the team struggled to create any counter balance on the left flank. Besides leading the team in shots, Bolaños led the team in 28 key passes.

The most pressing issue for Bolaños is his slight of frame. At 5'7" (Ed: Mayyyyybe) and less than 150 pounds, the Ecuadorian needs to be able to weather the physicality of the league. Whether it's getting pushed off the ball or accumulating a plethora of yellow cards for diving, Bolaños needs to find a way to keep his feet beneath him.

Defense: B
Vanney recalled Bolaños was "incredibly unfit" upon arriving at Chivas in the offseason. However Bolaños rounded into shape and in his final 15 appearances he attempted 27 tackles (21 of which were successful) and made ten of his 17 interceptions. With a full offseason and a renewed commitment to fitness, Bolaños has the trappings of a two-way impact midfielder.

- Matthew Hoffman

GM's Evaluation:

Miller Bolaños was one of our better offensive threats this past season (though, that's not really saying much). I am under the impression that he was on loan to Chivas USA, so I'm not entirely sure if he will be sticking around. If he does stay with the team, I would hope that he becomes a more consistent player. When he was on, he was great for the team. His involvement of all aspects of the offense was great, just not always there.

- Rachna Kapur

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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