CARSON, CA - APRIL 10: Blair Gavin #18 of Chivas USA centers the ball in front of Jeremy Hall #17 of the New York Red Bulls on April 10, 2010 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Chivas USA won 2-0. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The oddest part of this whole Shalrie trade is that ultimately we do not know what to make of the spare pieces we received. There is a second round pick in the SuperDraft - a tool for getting players that is slowly and surely losing its relevance. Then there is the always mysterious allocation money. How much is it? What can it be used for? In a perfect world we get a great player from the SuperDraft and spend the allocation money to sign the greatest designated player in the history of MLS, but both of those items are speculative at best.
So, fair or not, the only thing we have to judge the Shalrie trade from is the only tangible item we got in return for our former captain: midfielder Blair Gavin.
But who is Blair Gavin? We know he was picked in the 2010 SuperDraft. A draft who's best player was a second rounder in Tim Ream. A draft who's first overall pick has still to live up to expectations in Danny Mwanga. A draft where we are just starting to see players begin to make impact on their respective squads a la Jack McInerny and Michael Stephens.
The truth is we don't know much about Blair Gavin - other than the fact he has an allegedly killer 'stache and is a ginger. So we asked The Goat Parade's Alicia Ratteree to answer some question on our new mustachioed, ginger midfielder.
Blair Gavin was a 10th overall draft pick in 2010. Bottom line: has he lived up to the hype?
The bottom line: no, Gavin has not lived up to the hype. I think there were a couple of extenuating circumstances working against him. First, he's struggled with hamstring injuries through his short career, and that's prevented him from finding consistent playing time for Chivas. His high in league starts came in his rookie year of 2010, when he had 16. So without consistent playing time, he's been unable to really gain any traction.
On top of that, I think he's been played out of position at times under coach Robin Fraser. He is not a wide midfielder, but he's had to play out there in some instances because of a logjam at central midfield. He entered the league as an attacking central midfielder, but he's not shown much of the playmaking abilities that were highly touted out of Akron. So I think some of it is not his fault, but I also think he's been disappointing. Certainly, there's potential with Gavin, but it was certainly not realized with Chivas' first team.
How much do you think Robin Fraser's arrival and the change in team philosophy has affected Gavin's development as a player?
In 2010, Gavin stepped up at times during a very difficult season in which Chivas were very bad, and had a solid rookie season. But there has been very little continuity from the Martin Vasquez era, and Gavin was among only a handful of players on the roster who preceded Fraser's arrival. I think Gavin's severe hamstring injury that kept him out of most of the first half of 2011 set him back significantly with Fraser. Headed into 2011, Gavin was tipped to be the central attacking midfielder. After picking up the injury, new arrival Nick LaBrocca stepped into the vacuum and had a career year which led to a 2011 MLS All-Star selection. As a result of LaBrocca's emergence as an attacking midfielder (which hasn't really continued in 2012) Gavin was buried on the depth chart to start the season, and has had to wait for a chance to make his case to be in the lineup. When he did play, he didn't impress, and I'm not surprised that Fraser flipped him.
When he was healthy, what sort of player did you see him as? What were his strengths and weaknesses?
At his best, Gavin can make excellent passes. He can find teammates running into channels, and he's very good at making the pass before the assist to progress the attack. He's more of an assist man than a goal scorer, but given the time to set up the attack, Gavin can be a very dangerous player.
Frankly speaking, Gavin seems to have regressed this season. He's been responsible for sloppy passing that leads to opponent counterattacks and even goals on multiple occasions. The composure on the ball for which he was noted hasn't been present, and he can be hurried off the ball. I think ideally, he could play well in a style in which he's conducting the attack and playing a slower style, but very few teams in MLS have a patient playmaker pulling the strings. As I've noted, it's entirely possible that Gavin's in a slump and can recover in New England, but he hasn't shown many strengths in 2012.
Would you describe Gavin as an exciting talent when healthy?
Talk a little bit about his injury problems. Is this something we should be concerned about in New England?
Definitely. He's been mostly healthy in 2012, but if he gets a hamstring injury again, it could be very bad news. He even went to Germany in 2011 to rehab and get advice on how to remedy his persistent injury problems. Just because a player has a couple of injury-plagued years does not necessarily mean he's injury-prone, but there does have to be some concern with Gavin's track record.
Do you think his lack of time this season has been due to his injuries, or is it something else?
It's been mostly due to the fact that Chivas have a glut of midfielders this season, and Fraser's been trying to find the best combinations. LaBrocca was ahead of Gavin on the depth chart at central midfield, and Paolo Cardozo and Ben Zemanski have moved ahead of Gavin in recent weeks. Although I think Cardozo has also been disappointing and could potentially move aside for Joseph, Zemanski has shown major growth in each season and has outshone Gavin (also his college teammate) for the past year and a half.
Finally, are you sad to see him go?
He was a hard worker and was a victim of some bad luck while with Chivas. There are certainly fans who are sad to see him leave. That said, I can't lie - I was hoping Fraser would find a way to trade Gavin before his trade value bottomed out. In the long term, the Revs could certainly get the best of this deal, but for 2012, I think it was certainly the right move for Chivas.
So now that you know a little more about Mr. Gavin, what are your hopes for him? Do you think the trade was more about getting Gavin or getting rid of Shalrie and his contract? Did we get fair market value for Shalrie? Comment below