Following the departure of Gabriel Farfan on loan to Chiapas FC this week, a thought crossed my mind about one of the problems that cropped up for Chivas USA in 2013 -- on-field indiscipline. Of the eight players who got a red card during a game last year, five of them, Farfan, Edgar Mejia, Joaquin Velazquez (his was unjust and rescinded), Josue Soto, and Tristan Bowen, are no longer with the team. The other three, Dan Kennedy, Carlos Bocanegra, and Eric Avila (whose red card has to be considered very soft), have to be considered good enough players that a red card couldn't run them out of town.
Of course, I don't think one could say the five who were shown the door were primarily because of picking up a red card. And getting a red card doesn't mark one with a scarlet letter for their entire career. Things like blatantly stomping on a player (as Farfan did), or spitting at an opponent (like Bowen did) do.
In those two egregious incidents, the players were suspended beyond their red card suspensions, and the game in which it occurred marked a turning point for Jose Luis Real, who largely benched Farfan and Bowen the rest of the season. It was also the last time any player picked up a red card for the campaign.
Most of the players who were suspended last year (besides yellow card suspensions, which are so common around the league that they can't really be counted in the same way as red cards and MLS Disciplinary Committee suspensions) have also left the team. Besides Bowen and Farfan, Mario de Luna is gone. From what I can recall, only Carlos Alvarez remains, and despite picking up the suspension fairly early on in the season, he seemed to learn from that and didn't cause further disciplinary problems for the rest of the year.
There was a stretch in 2013 where Chivas lost nearly every game, and that mostly overlapped with a stretch in which players were hurting the team's cause of picking up points by getting sent off or doing something really stupid to earn a suspension. The reckless and physical nature the team started the season with set the tone for the year and that snowballed into bigger and bigger on-field disciplinary problems are the term wore on.
Again, red cards are a part of the game, and those and occasional suspensions are normal. I'm not saying the team needs to have a zero tolerance party for these things in 2014.
But to me it sends a pretty clear message during the latest clear-out that players who proved to have disciplinary issues and who didn't have enough talent to overcome those issues aren't really needed for the latest rebuild. Grit is good, having fiery players is good, and red cards are occasionally necessary. But no team is going to get very far if they lack discipline, and hopefully Chivas have turned a new leaf in 2014 in that department.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!
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