Ante Jazic had a career year for Chivas USA in 2011. Leading the team in assists, the left back was a fixture for the Goats, despite his advancing age, and his defense and attacking skills were reaching a late peak. He was able to parlay his performances at club level into a recall into the Canadian Men's National Team in the fall of 2011 as they moved through World Cup Qualifying.
What about 2012? In some respects, Jazic picked up where he left off, and in others, he could not reach his 2011 heights. He ended up playing only one less league game in 2012 than in 2011, while also featuring throughout the year for Canada in friendlies and World Cup Qualifiers. As the best left back on the Chivas roster, Jazic still played most of the games, ended up finishing third in minutes played on the team, despite being 36. But unlike 2011, and unlike his games with the national team in 2012, Jazic did not contribute any assists in 2012 for Chivas.
The simple answer for his drop in offensive production was that James Riley came in to play right back, and did all of the offensive shuttling on his side of the field. Meanwhile, Jazic stayed back most of the time, only occasionally made runs forward, which made sense in order to preserve his legs. I think this plan was probably at the behest of Robin Fraser, since Zarek Valentin stayed at home at right back in 2011, while Jazic got involved in the attack.
At the same time, Jazic had a quiet season on the defensive front, but he also had some poor performances along the way, something that one could not say about his 2011. In particular, the 4-0 loss early in the season to the Colorado Rapids and the 6-2 loss to the Seattle Sounders indicated some of the wear on Jazic's tires (although none of the defenders could escape scrutiny in those awful losses). Probably on balance, Jazic was still the steadiest Chivas defender in 2012, but the cracks showed more often.
Here were Jazic's statistics for 2012 with Chivas:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||27||27||2,379||0||0||2||0||0||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Jazic looks set to return to Chivas in 2013, as he announced in November that his contract option was picked up. As I wrote at the time, and as many of you have long realized, Jazic is a good player to bring back, but the team needs to seriously think about his successor. The chances he'll be able to play more than 25 games at a high level as a 37-year old is unlikely. Jorge Villafana played left back when Jazic was away or needed a rest in 2012, but he wasn't at the Canadian's level. The team either needs to drill Sueño on being a left back, or they need to bring in somebody to compete and/or supplant Jazic this year. Left back is a tricky position to fill, and Jazic can still contribute, but 2013 is quite likely his final season, and Chivas must figure out who their next steady man at that position will be.
Scoring threat: D
Only Dan Kennedy had fewer shots than Jazic for Chivas in 2012 among those who played at least five league games.
Playmaker (Passing/Creativity): C
Jazic just did not have the same success on the left side of the pitch that James Riley had on the right. It might boil down to age or it may just be that Miller Bolanos so dominated the ball on the right flank that Jazic's contributions were severely restricted.
Jazic had what can either be described as bad luck or a show of age on a few occasions this year. For instance his foul of Jeff Larenowitz led to a penalty that really took Chivas out of the match. He also had two own goals leading the team in this dubious distinction.
- Matthew Hoffman
Our left back rock. When everyone thought you were just done, you proved them wrong in 2011 and shined. Jazic didn't play as many games in 2012, for injury reasons and such, but when he did, he was still solid. While I would like to see him stick around for another season, I do hope the team can find someone to be his protégé. He's someone we've relied on for two seasons, and need to continue to make sure there is no void in left back.
- Rachna Kapur
What do you think? Leave a comment below!