MLS ’11 Preview: L.A. Galaxy
Los Angeles Galaxy
Stadium and Location:
The Home Depot Centre, Carson California.
Coach (with record as MLS coach)
Bruce Arena (USA) Record last year, 18-7-5
2010 LEAGUE RESULTS: Pts:
59 Record: 18-7-5 1st in Western Conference.
2010 REVIEW: Another season goes by and despite winning the Supporters Shield many fans will consider last season a failure. Losing to FC Dallas was a bitter blow especially considering the emphatic score line and the pressure is on this year for David Beckham to end his time in the US with at least one MLS Cup to his name. However it wasn’t all bad for LA, finishing top of the Western Conference, Edson Buddle left for Germany on the back of a strong league campaign netting 17 goals.
His solid form was enhanced by Landon Donovan who finished top of the league for assists. Add to that 21 year old Michael Stephens who can be proud of his 8 assists in his debut season as well as the continued progress of Omar Gonzalez means the club has some bright youngsters coming through.
ROSTER ADDITIONS: It was vital LA bolstered their attack in the wake of Edson Buddle’s departure. The re-entry draft saw Juan Pablo Angel join the club to give the Galaxy on paper a deadly strike-force. Veteran fullback Frankie Hejduk moved from Sporting Kansas in exchange for Luke Sassano who had been recently been acquired from New York.
Meanwhile Paolo Hernandez joined through the super draft along with Hector Jiminez. As if the striking options weren’t strong enough, Chad Barrett and Adam Cristman moved from Toronto FC and DC United respectively to give LA some depth in attack. Argentine Miguel Lopez joined from Quilmes and Brazilian duo Juninho and Leonardo returned on loan from Sao Paolo. The club concluded their business with the acquisitions of Daniel Keat, a hard working box to box midfielder who once trialed at Blackburn Rovers. Ryan Thomas a tidy central midfielder with a great long throw and Dustin McCarty.
ROSTER SUBTRACTIONS: A trio of retirements hit Galaxy’s squad with Americans Eddie Lewis & Chris Klein as well as Ukrainian Dema Kovalenko all choosing to hang up their boots. Alex Cazumba returned to Brazil after his loan deal expired and Soca Warriors midfielder Yohance Marshall was also allowed to leave. Edson Buddles move to the German 2nd tier was the club’s biggest loss and along with Tristan Bowen’s move to rivals Chivas USA opened some squad positions in attack.
PROJECTED STARTERS: 4-4-2 is the order of the day for LA with Beckham’s range of passing being aided by good movement up top. With their attacking options however don’t rule out a 4-2-3-1 similar to Germany’s in the World Cup.
FORWARDS: It’s any MLS coaches dream to have the likes of Angel, Donovan, Kirovski as starters and the deputies’ aren’t too shabby either.
MIDFIELD: Beckham playing on the right and youngster Stephens on the left will look to be the main creative outlet for the Galaxy. Diminutive workman Chris Birchall is likely to partner Juninho in the middle in an arced midfield four.
DEFENSE AND GOAL: Donovan Ricketts will remain as first choice between the sticks again for LA this season behind a young defence. Omar Gonzalez and J.P. DeLaGarza will look to form a strong if not young centre back pairing with experience coming from Frankie Hejduk and Todd Dunivant at right and left fullback.
KEY PLAYER: It seems obvious to suggest him but Landon Donovan is likely to be the reason the club either fail or succeed this season. At 28 he’s coming into his prime, and if he can continue his rich vein of assists from last year by supplying Angel with the chances to score he’s likely to succeed.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Despite all the big names, keep an eye on young Michael Stephens. Often the creators of goals don’t get as much credit but it’s not an easy skill. He will benefit from being surrounded by the star names the Galaxy have in attack which should allow him the freedom to grow as a player.
OUTLOOK: It’s now or never for LA and David Beckham. In some ways getting this season over with as quick as possible may be beneficial for the long term goals of the club. Strong in attack I still hold question marks over the depth and experience in central midfield and central defence. The acquisition of Hejduk was an astute one and it’s likely JP Angel will flourish in LA. Thankfully for LA Donovan is always going to give his all and while they are all but guaranteed to make the play off’s I can see a similar stumbling point around the semi’s or even in the final.
PREDICTION: 61 pts, 1st Western Conference