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The 2008 MLS playoffs are set to kick off on Thursday and, for the third straight season, the Los Angeles Galaxy won’t be involved.
LA had the league’s poster boy in David Beckham, Golden Boot winner in Landon Donovan, and the winningest coach in MLS history in Bruce Arena (for the second half of the season at least) and still couldn’t avoid its season ending early.
Scoring goals wasn’t a problem, but everything involved with trying to stop opponents from scoring was. From goalkeeper to the back-line to the defensive midfield, the Galaxy were woefully inadequate and its salary cap situation made addressing these issues impossible.
Now that the Galaxy’s season is over, it is time to consider what Arena can and will do to rebuild the Galaxy and end the playoff drought in 2009.
Here are five possible steps to helping rebuild the Galaxy:
1. Sell Donovan, use the money to bolster the defense.
Let me be clear, the preference would be to keep Donovan and build around him, but with the U.S. national team star intent on moving to Europe this off-season, the Galaxy must prepare for the inevitable, and look to make the most of his departure.
Selling Donovan could give the Galaxy major allocation funds, as well as transfer revenue it can use on a replacement in the attack, while also providing the funds to buy a goalkeeper, central defender and/or defensive midfielder.
2. Sign a goalkeeper, a good one
When the Galaxy dealt away Joe Cannon last off-season, it wound up being one of the biggest mistakes they could make. Sure, Cannon wanted no part of sticking around, but the Galaxy made a mistake in thinking Steve Cronin was the future of the goalkeeping position. Late-season replacements Josh Saunders and Josh Wicks failed to impress, leaving goalkeeper at the top of the shopping list.
Where could LA turn? The Galaxy inquired about Bouna Coundoul during his time on the Colorado bench, and LA also expressed interest in Matt Pickens. While Coundoul is a real long-shot–he’s out of contract and Colorado isn’t likely to deal his rights to the Galaxy–Pickens could be a possibility.
3. Buy a central defender worth a damn
Abel Xavier, Greg Vanney, Eduardo Dominguez. All three tried and failed to give the Galaxy a worthwhile anchor in central defense. Sean Franklin tried his hardest, and looked good at times, but he’s a natural right back, meaning the Galaxy absolutely must find a center back who can avoid being shredded on a weekly basis.
Where could LA turn? Bruce Arena is going to have to hit the international transfer market and try to find a player like RSL center back Jamison Olave.
4. Find a defensive midfielder
Alvaro Pires was flat mediocre to awful as a defensive midfield acquisition, with his season finale red card a fitting end to what should be a one-year run in LA. What the Galaxy needs is a hard-nosed ball winner who can smother opposing playmakers and provide some cover for the back-line. A player like Pablo Mastroeni.
No, Mastroeni isn’t going to LA, he is out of contract and a safe bet to leave Colorado for a contract in Europe, but he’s the type of player Arena needs. Could Arena convince Mastroeni to stay? Could LA meet a potential Rapids asking price for Mastroeni.
Let’s face it, all of the above suggestions are obvious enough to point out. Making them happen is another story. What is very clear is that there are major changes that need to take place to a roster that has some serious flaws.
What do you think the Galaxy should do this off-season? Do you think the Galaxy is only a piece or two away, or do you think a major roster overhaul is a must?
Share your thoughts on the Galaxy in the comments section below.