HOUSTON - MAY 05: Mike Chabala #17 of the Houston Dynamo looks for someone to pass to against FC Dallas at Robertson Stadium on May 5, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Remember Mike Chabala? The 26-year old fullback that was a regular in the Dynamo lineup last season, who had become a bit of fan favorite?
Yeah, that guy. What happened to Mike?
Chabala is still here, still training and working hard like the rest of his teammates but instead of being a starter or even seeing time as a substitute, Chabala has spent nearly the entire season on the bench, making a single 8-minute appearance. Talk about going out of favor.
You had to know that it would be hard for Chabala to find playing time after several new defenders were signed in the off-season, but I don't think anyone expected him to fall completely off the radar. It has to be frustrating for a player that had kept his nose down and done everything the team has asked of him for the past five seasons. If the situation is bothering Chabala, he's not saying anything publicly about it, which is probably the right choice.
So the question becomes, has Chabala's time with the Dynamo come to an end? It's fair to say that he's become the fourth choice fullback behind Freeman, Ashe and Hainault...and don't forget rookie Kofi Sarkodie is there as well. If the team no longer sees Chabala as part of their plans, why not explore trade options for the young defender?
There has to be several teams in MLS who would be interested in a fullback capable of being a week in, week out starter in the league who has an extremely reasonable contract. Not to mention a player with good speed and the ability to get forward and help on the attack. Why not trade Chabala and either pick up another player, a draft pick and/or allocation money rather than leave him on the bench and playing in reserve matches?
There is nothing wrong with having depth, but if there's one position the Dynamo seem overloaded at, it's fullback. Better in my view to allow Chabala to move on and move forward with the group of defenders you have. Don't forget either that Chabala's contract should be up at the end of the season (at least I believe so, but it's hard to know for sure since MLS keeps contract details locked down tighter than Fort Knox) so moving him to another team, rather than letting him leave for free in the winter would seem like the better choice.
Either way, it's disappointing to see a player who has worked hard for the Dynamo be relegated to the background, even if the coaches feel that's what's tactically best for the team. Better to let him get a fresh start with another club in my opinion and get some kind of value in return that can help you either this season or in the future.
What say you Dynamo fans?