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MLS- LA Galaxy

On MLS: Winter signings crucial for Galaxy's identity

robbiekeane

With Los Angeles shaping up to be a winter wonderland of DP signings, there may never have been a more crucial time for the Galaxy in terms of determining their identity.

The Galaxy have always been at the forefront of the DP conversation in MLS. The team’s signing of David Beckham was the impetus for the launch of the rule as a whole, and since then the team has, coincidentally or purposefully depending on your level of conspiracy belief, been the benefit of many changes to the rule over the years.

In their long and storied history, the Galaxy have relied heavily on big-name marquee signings of the DP variety. Beginning with Beckham all those years ago and running through many star players such as Juan Pablo Angel, Landon Donovan, and Omar Gonzalez, including 2016’s Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard, and Giovani dos Santos, the Galaxy have never shied away from making a splash.

But now, as Keane’s storied five-year tenure with the team comes to an end and Gerrard’s year-and-a-half experiment concludes as well, the Galaxy are at somewhat of a crossroads. After pioneering the big-name, late-career European transplant, the Galaxy have two free DP slots, a bucketful of cash, and a big decision to make. Stick with the old ways that have worked in the past and seen MLS grow tremendously since its humble beginnings? Or join the growing trend, popularized by Toronto FC and Giovinco, and sign a younger, in-his-prime player that can become a focal point for years to come?

In their last two decisions, the Galaxy opted for a bit of a split. Dos Santos represented a player in his prime, but out of form and favor with both club and country at Valencia and Mexico. After three goals and five assists in his 11 appearances in 2015, dos Santos erupted for 15 goals and 13 assists in 30 matches this year for the Galaxy, setting himself up for a bright future with the Galaxy. Gerrard, on the other hand, represented a very old-style MLS signing. An instant-patch, career-winding-down, big-name European star who, as these signings tend to pan out as a whole, was a bit of a mixed bag. While he made his presence felt on occasion, at times the game simply seemed too physical for Gerrard as his aging body struggled to keep up.

Now, with the legendary Keane, who will go down as one of the best DP signings of all time, departing alongside Gerrard, the Galaxy face down the same decision once more. Though it’s easy to believe the lackluster Gerrard saga might put the Galaxy off of signing older players, with names such as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Zlatan Ibrahimovic potentially on the market, will they be able to resist such tempting options? If they can, the players available in a dos Santos mold, under-performing, unwanted, but still supremely talented, are numerous around the world beyond count.

The Galaxy will have competition, as New York City FC also has a free DP slot, while two expansion teams fill out their rosters as well, but all eyes will be on Los Angeles. While Giovinco makes a strong case for younger DPs, the Galaxy can truly set the bar in terms of the direction of MLS and the types of players other teams sign. With the league less reliant on big-name Europeans than the past, and with the surge of valuable Central and South American talent infused into the league of late, the Galaxy are uniquely positioned to make an impact statement with their signings. But with the specter of an in-market rival in 2018’s expansion team, Los Angeles FC, is on the horizon, the allure of a big-name may be large to ignore.

In a way, it almost feels like 2007 again. A league on the rise undergoing somewhat of a paradigm shift, but this time, the shift is moving away from older DPs and towards a generation of players who will spend their prime on MLS teams. But now, just as it was then, the Galaxy are at the forefront of the DP conversation once more, with their decision perhaps influencing the direction of MLS for years to come.

It’s as they say. As the Galaxy go, so goes the league.

13 comments
  • UclaBruinGreat

    Zlatan is old now, but I am sure the Galaxy would not be deterred and would want to sign him. He is Zlatan! He’s one of the players I would definitely make an exception for. He would also pair well with Gio. Just make sure the contract isn’t too long. You can get a good season or two out of Zlatan.

    Like

    • Five Stars Upon Thars

      He’d only come in the summer window. Which means Zardes would have to start up top with Gio. Those two already have great chemistry and a feel for what the other is doing. I’d be a shame to breakup that pairing mid-season to make room for a new (perhaps disruptive) addition.

      Like

  • David K

    I would love to see two more young DPs in LA. Carlos Vela comes to mind as someone who could fit that mold, and allow Zardes to pair with Gio up top where he is most effective. Add a great young #8 or #6 could make this team into another dynasty for years to come. Another MLS cup would put a damper on LAFCs momentum to boot.

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    • Five Stars Upon Thars

      DP’s are big part of the marketing that the Galaxy produce. They probably would prefer to diversify their DP’s to cover different markets in LA. Having two Mexican Int might be redundant.

      Like

  • bottlcaps

    It seems there are more people wanting the LAG to sign big stars than the Galaxy themselves.
    This makes sense as the MLS TV rights contract is up for renegotiation within the year and while the ratings are up for the MLS, having a Wayne Rooney or Zlatan or another foreign star would work wonders for a new contract and for the salary cap. (in case you don’t know the MLS salary cap is in direct correlation to the TV rights fees)

    LA and NY are the two big market cities the stars want to live and play in so naturally the stars tend to gravitate there.

    But herein lies the problem for the LAG, I am sure that Kirovsky, Klein and Arena will look to bring in some young South American starlet for at least one of the DP spots. Right now the Galaxy need a true playmaking midfielder and a defensive midfielder, while a good d-mid could be found domestically without a DP spot being used, I am almost certain one DP spot will be used for a SA mid. The other spot may be a big name, but maybe not. The Galaxy got bit with the injury bug with its older players. The Gerrards and the De jongs played well, but Gerrard was not healthy long enough to contribute which is a price to pay for older players. When De Jong was a game away from losing his DP spot for next year because of injury and suspensions, he bolted when he could.

    If Arena takes the USMNT job as some have expected, it will put additional pressure on him to quickly make decisions for the Galaxy and to get squared away before turning attention to the US team. This means no drawn out negotiations. The positions will be filled quickly this off season or not until next summer. I do not think the Galaxy would like holding a position open til the summer, but they could do it for the right player,

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    • Five Stars Upon Thars

      It’s not just the league’s TV deal either. The local broadcast rights are tied with the Galaxy having the names that will draw eyeballs to the station.

      There have been plenty of great signings that he come out of SA, but there have been plenty of flops too. Gonzalo Veron, anyone? Every fanbase wants their own Lodeiro, Piatti or Valeri. While I’m not saying that it’s impossible that the Galaxy sign one of those types of players, I think it’s more likely that someone like Keisuke Honda and or Andres Guardado signs there instead.

      This Galaxy team was a playoff team without two DPs, adding the right two could set them up for another championship run regardless of who the coach is.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bottlcaps

        Good point. Tyhe DP slots will be picked now with Veganas, Kirovsky and the new coach, whoever he may be. the choice for the new coach will probably decide which way the Galaxy will go.

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  • Gary Page

    As i wrote the other day, I think they need to get younger and faster. They were hamstrung in that regard when Zardes went out and then they lost Boateng for their last game. Nevertheless, their backups include Mike Magee and Larentowicz who are also on the wrong side of 30. One thing about the Galaxy is that they seem to put marketing on a par with quality. I think they have to put long term quality first since a winning team does better at the gate than a losing team with big names.

    Like

    • Five Stars Upon Thars

      It was more difficult to get tickets in 2015 after Gerrard and Gio arrived than it was in 2014 when the Galaxy were playing the most beautiful and dominate soccer in franchise history.

      Like

  • Ronnae Dominique

    First, the LA Galaxy strength and legacy started way before Beckham. I am a life long Galaxy fan and will offer my opinions. Beckham & Keane were a success and worth the money spent. Gerrard & De Jong-a waste. It’s not all about age. It depends on the type of player and the players themselves.

    I’d prefer they go for 1 young, and 1 kind of old. Someone 22-27, in their prime, technically gifted but physical. And then, maybe a 30 or 31 yr old, whose body is strong, not injury prone, who still has a good 5 years in him.

    With all the departures and such, there is a lack of veterans. The team is pretty young, especially if Van Damme leaves. He is the prototype of an older player to bring in, he was great this year. I’d prefer another keeper as well, Rowe isn’t ready yet, but they may let him grow as the #1. We have to see if Bruce is staying or leaving, that may depend on the USMNT coaching situation.

    Like

  • wicked68

    First, the LA Galaxy strength and legacy started way before Beckham. I am a life long Galaxy fan and will offer my opinions. Beckham & Keane were a success and worth the money spent. Gerrard & De Jong-a waste. It’s not all about age. It depends on the type of player and the players themselves.

    I’d prefer they go for 1 young, and 1 kind of old. Someone 22-27, in their prime, technically gifted but physical. And then, maybe a 30 or 31 yr old, whose body is strong, not injury prone, who still has a good 5 years in him.

    With all the departures and such, there is a lack of veterans. The team is pretty young, especially if Van Damme leaves. He is the prototype of an older player to bring in, he was great this year. I’d prefer another keeper as well, Rowe isn’t ready yet, but they may let him grow as the #1. We have to see if Bruce is staying or leaving, that may depend on the USMNT coaching situation.

    Like

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