Chivas USA 2013 Player Postmortem: Patrick McLain

McLain: Got a chance to play, but didn't get much support from his defense. - USA TODAY Sports

After waiting more than a year, McLain got a chance to play with the first team.

I imagine the life of a third string goalkeeper is quite a mixed bag. On one hand, third string keepers are usually young, and they are trying to soak up the experience and on some level are probably thrilled to be professional soccer players. On the other hand, if they have made their way into the pro ranks, they are probably pretty frustrated waiting for a chance to play, as most teams stick to one goalkeeper, and rotation is not a common policy on most teams when it comes to that position.

In 2012, Patrick McLain signed with Chivas USA to be one of the backups to Dan Kennedy. Joining the team the same time as Tim Melia, it was initially unclear who was the first backup and who would be second understudy, but Melia's relative experience around MLS gave him the edge and McLain was left to wait for a break.

Entering 2013, it looked to be very much the same situation, as goalkeeper was the only part of the team that was retained wholesale during the ownership turnover and subsequent rebuilding project. DK was the undisputed number one, Melia was his backup, and McLain was the insurance policy. But McLain ended up getting his chance, as Melia was sidelined most of the season with a back injury that required surgery, and McLain moved up to the gameday 18. When Kennedy was red carded against Sporting Kansas City, the keeper from Wisconsin made his MLS debut.

Now, on the flip side of the interminable waiting game for the third string goalkeeper comes the circumstances in which McLain played for the first time for Chivas: starting goalkeeper has been sent off, no time to warm up, on the road against a raucous crowd, and to top it all off, facing a penalty kick the moment the referee whistles the play to restart.

No wonder they say goalkeepers are a different bunch. Going from one extreme to the next certainly isn't for the faint of heart.

Ultimately, McLain played two games, the loss to SKC and the following game when Kennedy was suspended, a loss to the Portland Timbers on the road. Except for the final stretch of the season, they were the worst losses Chivas endured in 2013, but was that down to McLain's play?

In a word, no. By the time of the Kansas City game May 5, opponents had figured out Chelís' system, such as it was, and in particular had figured out how to beat his defense. While the three-man defense got all the attention, for obvious reasons, opponents realized that with a few quick passes through the midfield press, and with numbers pushed forward to overwhelm the defense, Chivas could be beaten easily. In fairness to Chivas, both KC and Portland are in the MLS Cup semifinals this season, so they are good teams, but the tape added up and coaches could draft game plans to beat Chivas and their innovations.

So McLain came into basically the worst possible situation in his first game, and while he got off to a good start in his lone start, he couldn't hold back the Timbers' attack all game, and before long the dam broke completely.

Here are McLain's statistics for 2013:

Games Played Games Started Minutes Saves Goals Allowed GAA Shutouts Win % Save % Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 2 1 124 4 6 4.35 0 0 40 0 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 1 124 4 6 4.35 0 0 40 0 0

It should be noted that McLain had a short loan stint with the LA Blues in April 2013, but he didn't end up playing in any games for them in that stretch, as he was unlucky to come in when Carl Woszczynski was on a roll at that team.

Matt's assessment:

At the end of the Sporting KC match McLain had no saves, allowing three goals on seven attempts. Two attempts were blocked and another two were misses.

McLain's four save match against Portland was unheralded not only because the relentless Portland attack (60% possession, 19 attempts on goal) put up another three goals on him, but the game was not only overshadowed by the loss itself but also Mario de Luna's incident with the ball boy.

Future:

McLain's contract option wasn't picked up by the team. I think it's too bad, since he was decent in limited action, and he was making the regular minimum salary of $46,500 (base salary and guaranteed compensation). In other words, I don't think he did anything to demonstrate why he should be cut loose, and is still young for a goalkeeper, at 25.

From my interactions with him, he was a class act, and hopefully he can find a new team that will give him a chance.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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