Today's subject is defender Jair Benitez.
Jair is the source of much consternation when having debates about who is too reckless to play, or too experienced to lose. He has been known to spit at players, lunge into crazy tackles, or otherwise do something that lacks composure. He is frequently targeted by opponents, who egg him on and prod him, hoping he will do something silly enough to get himself sent off the pitch.
Prior to 2013, Jair's hotheadedness frequently got him in trouble with the league, once earning a suspension for spitting on a Dynamo player in a 2011 preseason friendly. A preseason friendly hardly seems the sort of event worth getting riled up over, Dynamo or otherwise, but Jair couldn't control his anger and more than once he felt the league smack him upside the head with a suspension.
2013 saw Benitez regulate his temper regularly, though he still earned a few disciplinary actions. Despite his proclivities for off-the-ball nonsense, on the ball Benitez is a different beast.
Jair is a smart defender, and doesn't get easily beat through trickery. He keeps track of his runners and doesn't often lose a mark. While he isn't flawless, he is much harder to get by than most of the league's left-backs. He has lost a bit of the pace that made him so hard to beat, and fans saw him get burned by Nagbe and a few others several times. However, the list of players who can outrun Benitez one-on-one isn't very large andhe is still fast enough to cope with most threats that come his way.
His propensity to cross the ball into oblivion has frustrated many fans, but how much of that was due to Hyndman instructing him to play to his weaknesses? Schellas' reliance on fullbacks is well documented, and while Jair does decently enough pushing up into the attack, his crosses leave something to be desired. The rate at which we saw errant crosses from both Zach Loyd and Jair makes you wonder how much less they would concede possession if they were instructed to hold onto the ball longer.
He's getting older, but he also is pretty cheap. With his salary sitting at 90k, it's possible his price might go down even further. Not much more perhaps, but enough where it might make sense to keep him. There's no telling if Moises Hernandez will be the left back of the future, but if he is, having Jair as cover isn't such a bad idea. If Hernandez goes elsewhere, who do you have beyond Benitez? While searching for a replacement might prove successful, you at least know what you have with Jair.
Not to mention that, for some reason, he has been the spitting image of health compared to the rest of the defense.
What say you readers? Thumbs up, or thumbs down for Jair?