Edgar Mejia joined Chivas USA in 2013 as one of the touted players to come from Chivas de Guadalajara. Instead of the "Chivas rejects" who had previously been sent to the MLS team, the argument went, guys like Mejia and Mario de Luna had vastly more experience at a high level and would contribute to the team in a meaningful way.
Following a season at the club, did those experienced hands live up to expectations? In a word, no. That's not to say they didn't contribute, as both were fixtures in the lineup, but considering the line we were fed coming into the season, they weren't game changers on an MLS level.
One of the things that didn't seem to mesh well for Mejia in this league was his position. He was a holding midfielder, but not really a defensive one. If that's the case, one would reason, then he would really be a deep-lying playmaker, or perhaps a box-to-box midfielder. But he wasn't really any of those roles. The closest would be the playmaker, I suppose, but he didn't actually make attacking plays. His passing could be good, but nobody watching this team on a regular basis, when asked, would respond that Mejia was the man pulling the strings for the Goats. The problem was that nobody, really, was pulling said strings.
Here are Mejia's statistics in 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||28||27||2,266||1||4||12||4||2||1|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Now, lest you think I'm coming down too hard on him, it is worth noting that Mejia was co-leader on the team in assists in 2013. That essentially comes from his set piece delivery. Mejia took the vast majority of the team's corner and free kicks in 2013, and did set up a couple of goals that way, which is great.
But he wasn't that good at set piece delivery. If that was his calling card as a player, then it wasn't entirely effective. In fact, I think Carlos Alvarez looked equally as good at set pieces as Mejia, and he took a fraction of them in competitive games. Maybe the grass is always greener and Mejia set himself apart in training when it came to dead ball situations, but there were way, way too many wasted free kicks and corners that couldn't make it past the first man for me to laud Mejia's set piece abilities overall.
To me, Mejia just didn't have the skills or the complement around him to really succeed in this league. By lack of skills, I don't mean that he was without skills, because he did seem to have more of those than most of his teammates. But that's relative, and a holding midfielder who doesn't defend well and doesn't set up plays is going to be pretty limited.
If he and Oswaldo Minda had played side-by-side all season, would things have been different? Possibly, though I think it still would have been limited. I've written extensively that I'm a fan of Minda and his game (as a midfield destroyer) is taylor-made for MLS. In contrast, Mejia's lack of an elite skill at his position made him a liability over the course of the season.
I wouldn't pin all of the blame on Mejia, however. He took up the chance to come to a new league, brought his family over, did the promotional work for the team. It isn't his fault Chivas built him up to be the new face of the team when the results didn't warrant such treatment.
The question is whether Mejia could make it on a decent-to-good MLS side. Obviously it would depend on the skills of the midfielders around him, but on a good MLS team, he would probably be a spot starter at best. Just because a player comes from Mexico, has some real time in the Mexican Primera under his belt, doesn't mean he's one of the better players in MLS. Again, the guy came in and played, and I can't complain about that, but in retrospect, bringing Mejia in and promising a new era with him as one of the key parts was the Chivas equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mejia was among the Chivas loanees sent back to Mexico. You may have heard Chivas de Guadalajara retooled their roster to try and avoid relegation, but Mejia was not even retained on that squad. Instead, he was sent on loan once more, this time to Puebla. The Liga MX season is young, with just two games played thus far, but Mejia hasn't seen any action yet. It's worth noting that at his previous loan stop in Mexico, Leon for the 2012 Apertura, he never made an appearance in the league, either. Meanwhile, Chelís and Jose Luis Real played him in every game he was eligible for with Chivas USA.
Maybe Mejia will find a team where he can see some regular minutes (maybe even with Puebla later this season), but it seems likely the 25-year-old will bounce around for the foreseeable future, sitting mostly on the bench.
For Chivas' part, they have already replaced Mejia's set piece contributions, and then hopefully much, more more with the trade for Mauro Rosales. Obviously, four assists can't be taken for granted before a ball has even been kicked, but if Rosales can't surpass Mejia's total from 2013, the Argentine's season will have to be considered a big disappointment.
Mejia officially made $140,000 (base and guaranteed) with Chivas USA according to the MLS Players Union numbers. By league standards that isn't a massive contract, but for a team that has been run on the cheap, it is a significant amount (as a point of comparison, when the figures were first announced in May, Mejia was the fifth-highest paid player on the team in terms of guaranteed compensation). So freeing that amount up is good so Chivas can hopefully upgrade further heading into 2014. We shall see.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!