MLS ’12 Preview – Los Angeles Galaxy
Head Coach: Bruce Arena
2011 Record: 19-5-10, 1st Western Conference, 1st Overall, Defending MLS Cup Champions
Twitter Hashtag: #LAGalaxy
The defending champions have a realistic chance to complete a task that no other team in the history of the league has experienced – the opportunity to win about three or four possible championships if everything falls into place. Besides trying to win another Supporters Shield, this team will attempt to defend their MLS Cup title while also pushing to make a long run in the US Open Cup. But the first thing that will be thrown at them is the current edition of the CONCACAF Champions League.
If the Galaxy can go all the way to the final and become the first MLS Side to win this version of the Continental club tournament, then they would earn a chance to compete for the FIFA Club World Cup in late December against some of the best sides in the world.
Coaching and Front Office: It’s really simple. Bruce Arena is the old dog that keeps on creating new tricks as he runs the club. Everything he touches becomes gold. Right now he is licking his chops at the opportunities in front of him to win a possible treble or quadruple. 2012 could be a banner year for the Galaxy at hoisting silverware.
Key Additions: Edson Buddle has returned from Ingolstadt of the 2. Bundesliga, as both sides mutually ended their contract. New Zealand defender Andrew Boyens comes over to the other side of the hallway from Chivas USA to shore up the backline. Pat Noonan arrives from the Seattle Sounders to fill in that third striker position.
Key Losses: To be honest the key loss for this side isn’t so much a player that has left the club, but rather a guy who will be out for the entire 2012 season due to a terrible injury. Omar Gonzalez injured his ACL while training in Europe during the off-season, and will spend much of 2012 recovering.
Projected Starters: Keeper Josh Saunders won the battle to stay in Los Angeles as Donovan Ricketts was traded to the Montreal Impact. With the loss of Gonzalez, the backline will see Todd Dunivant and Sean Franklin at their usual fullback positoins, with A.J. DeLaGarza and Leonardo pairing in central defense.
The midfield will once again have David Beckham on dead ball situations and Landon Donovan attacking either down the right or middle after returning from his loan deal with Everton. Juninho returns from Brazil on another season-long loan. The ever surprising Mike Magee will once again show why Arena has faith in him.
When it comes to the strikers, Edson Buddle will return to his starting role along with Robbie Keane coming back from his own loan stint at Aston Villa. Expect Adam Cristman or Pat Noonan to come off the bench or get playing time when Buddle, Keane or both have the night off.
Player To Watch: The return of Edson Buddle is a big deal after his attempt to play in Germany didn’t work out well. It sounds like he is anxious to get back to work. I don’t believe he will be out of place with this squad, as most of them were here before he left.
Best Case Scenario: This squad repeats as MLS Cup Champions and earns International hardware as they go along. There is so much depth with this team, it’s tough not to think they’ll take care of business and do it again.
Worst Case Scenario: If the injury bug comes in and finds a way to sting this side then it could be a long season. While their depth looks good, you don’t know how they would cope losing Beckham, Donovan and others for a long period of time.
Prediction: Bruce Arena’s side will be hungry to repeat and win multiple championships and I can see them heading back to the MLS Cup Final. The big question is whether their opponent in the Final will be able to give them any trouble.