Following the departure of David Beckham at the close of last season’s successful MLS Cup run-in, speculation was rife in the U.S. soccer world about who would take the former England captain’s place at the LA Galaxy. Beckham, along with U.S. international Landon Donovan and all-time leading Irish national team goal-scorer Robbie Keane, occupied one of the Galaxy’s coveted designated player, or “DP” slots.
Despite such lofty names as Frank Lampard, Kaka, Andrei Arshavin, and Ronaldinho being bandied about, the reigning MLS champs elected to promote from within, naming homegrown defender Omar Gonzalez as their third DP. And while Galaxy fans on the one hand took comfort in the idea that such an appointment means they’ll be more likely to hold onto the breakout USMNT starlet for another season or two, there were also rumblings about what could be perceived as a lateral move.
After all, the Galaxy’s season has not exactly been smooth sailing. And up to the north, the Seattle Sounders has just pulled off the coup of the season in signing Clint Dempsey from Tottenham Hotspur of the Premier League.
Meanwhile it could be argued that the Galaxy have essentially just re-signed a player they already had, and gave up a chance to recruit a big-name reinforcement in the process.
So despite a packed crowd and a confident outward face, there were certainly some misgiving beneath the surface going into last week’s home fixture against Real Salt Lake; a team that in the past few seasons, has proved to be the Galaxy’s kryptonite on numerous occasions.
Omar’s newfound DP status seems to have injected the 6 ft. 5 defender with a renewed sense of confidence for while he has been somewhat inconsistent of late, against RSL, he was commanding and decisive.
Ultimately from the perspective of a US fan, it would be great to someday soon see Omar plying his trade in the Premier League, Bundesliga, or perhaps Serie A.
However for the time being, US soccer and LA Galaxy fans can rejoice that the most talented player to have emerged from these shores in recent years will be staying put for the time being. His towering presence in defense and aerial danger on set pieces will be vital as LA ratchets up its efforts to land a playoff spot on the march towards a potential three-peat of MLS Cup wins.