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Michaell Chirinos | Who he is and What he Means for the Vancouver Whitecaps

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Tijuana v Lobos BUAP - Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Gonzalo Gonzalez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Michaell Chirinos. He’s a guy. If this article comes out then it means he’s been officially announced as a guy who plays soccer for the Vancouver Whitecaps (on loan from CD Olimpia with an option to buy at the end of the season). Will that make a difference? The clear answer is perhaps.

Career:

Chirinos is a 24 year old winger from Honduras. Like many Honduran stars he began his career with CD Olimpia. He actually played against the Whitecaps during their 2015 CONCACAF Champions league campaign. Wikipedia (whose goal totals often aren’t that accurate) has him scoring 26 goals in 98 appearances for Olimpia. Transfermarkt.com doesn’t track the Honduran league but it does show that he scored 5 goals and 3 assists in continental competition.

He was loaned with an option to buy to Lobos BUAP of Liga MX for the 2018/19 season. It was a disastrous season for Lobos as they were relegated from Liga MX. Well sort of, it’s very complicated. Check out their Wikipedia page for a better explainer). Despite this, Chirinos was able to register 6 goals and 2 assists in 33 appearances, tao be the second top scorer in the squad.

Internationally Chirinos has 18 caps for Honduras but has failed to score thus far. He earned high praise for his performance at the 2019 Gold Cup. He scored twice in 10 appearances at U20 level.

Style of Play:

Chininos can play both as a left winger and as a right winger. His strongest attribute is his dribbling. Here are some stats posted on Twitter by Peter Galindo.

Chirinos with Olimpia

As you can see he dribbles a lot and drifts inside often. He’s also been praised for his work ethic and willingness to track back. These qualities have lead to the suggestion that he may be the ideal player to play in front of Ali Adnan. The Whitecaps actually putting some thought into how the players they acquire might fit together into a whole would be quite a step forward (one that hasn’t for sure happened yet).

MLS Projections:

Chirinos is good at driving the ball forward. This is something that has been a huge problem for the Whitecaps. I am, however, a little concerned that his goal scoring record isn’t super high. In Mexico this was partly because his team was terrible, but even when he was on the super dominant Olimpia he only had about a goal every three games. Now, a player who’s main function is to drive the ball into the other team’s final third isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But I am a little concerned that the Whitecaps have a lot of guys who ostensibly do that already. I am planning to get into this deeper in a future article, but the Whitecaps will most likely need to score around 20 more goals next season if they want to make the playoffs. The odds that the Whitecaps can both find and afford someone who can shoulder all that load seem low. It’s going to have to be done by committee. Assuming you can count on Chirinos for, say 7 (slightly more than what he did in Liga MX), that represents a net increase of around 2-3 goals since Lucas Venuto was shipped out. Obviously we’ll have to wait and see what other moves they make but it seems like they’re putting a lot of pressure on whoever plays upfront for them next season (this is all assuming they pick up Chirinos’ purchase option as well).

But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. What is a reasonable expectation for Chirinos’ production in MLS? Here he is compared to every Honduran attacker who has played in MLS since the Whitecaps joined the league in 2011.

Honduran Attackers in MLS since 2011

Player CCL Apps. CCL G+A/96 Liga MX (or roughly equivilant league) Apps. Liga MX (or roughly equivilant league) G+A/96 MLS Apps. MLS G+A/96
Player CCL Apps. CCL G+A/96 Liga MX (or roughly equivilant league) Apps. Liga MX (or roughly equivilant league) G+A/96 MLS Apps. MLS G+A/96
Quioto 14 0.42 0 0 70 0.65
Elis 10 0.54 5 0 72 0.85
Chirinos 8 0.53 33 0.28 0 0
Chavez 9 0.29 0 0 112 0.41
Bengston 8 0.3 15 0.3 36 0.17
Costly 7 0.86 11 0.39 11 0.16
Lopez 13 0.13 0 0 28 0.22
Mario Martinez 12 0.52 45 0.9 13 0
Walter Martinez 11 0.74 0 0 15 0.31
Nuñez 1 0 29 0.49 10 1.2
Rochez 3 0.45 30 0.6 17 1

As you can see, MLS is a weird league and success in it is hard to predict. Alberth Elis was a total flop in Liga MX but has the best scoring rate of any Honduran in the past decade. Mario Martinez was a total flop in MLS but went on to destroy the Egyptian Premier league, a league who’s teams make it to the final four of the club world cup about as often as Liga MX’s do. There are also two clear outliers in this data. Ramon Nuñez and Bryan Rochez both scored well in a tiny number of minutes. Rochez was considered a major flop in Orlando but it turns out he was doing good things with the minutes he got. Perhaps it’s not so surprising he scored 10 goals in the Portuguese first division last season.

When averaging all the data I found that on average MLS scoring and CCL scoring was usually about the same. Scoring in Liga MX or a roughly equivalent league (Argentina, English Championship, Egypt, etc.) usually drops by about a 25%. If this holds true for Chirinos then you’d expect him to get somewhere between 0.4 and 0.5 G+A/96 in MLS. He’s unlikely to set the league on fire but he could be a solid MLS attacker. As long as the Whitecaps have a plan for using him and how he will fit into the team then I think this is a pretty reasonable signing.

Highlights:

All Liga MX goals:

Top 10 goals for Olimpia:

All touches vs Alajuelense in 2017

All touches vs Panama for Honduras: