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How would you fix the LA Galaxy?


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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.

5.  Pray

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.


  1. Would Edgar Davids play for Landon’s money without Ruud being around? That guy would rule the middle of the park. You wouldn’t need Pablo and he would have the name recognition that LA seems to want.

    For a striker, they should bring back Stern John. I also like the idea of Michael Orozco in the backline. What about Zack Whitbread? What is he even up to these days? Heck, bring back Kyle Veris and play Randolph at Left Back.

  2. I agree with Ives La needs a whole new spine for it’s team. Starting at keeper, center back, CM, ST.

    OUT: Jazic to TFC, Donovan to Europe, Pires, Vagenas, Vanney, Dominguez

    IN: Two CB’s, LB, Mastroeni, CAM

    I actually think with a good CAM, Buddle and Gordon would work up front, Mastroeni is a real possibility especially if with all the allocation money LA will have floating around.

    Buddle Gordon



    Becks and Lewis on wings

    Rand, CB,CB, Frank


  3. Ives, now that you have broken everything down, I’m not sure the Gals can be fixed in just one year. They could start with an established goalkeeper, maybe even somebody from the USL like Matt Jordan or Bill Gaudette. And folks, keep in mind that whaterver LA gets from selling Landycakes (if he does go), they can only use up to 500K of it for allocations. Even with Arena steering the ship, this is starting to look like a Columbus type rebuilding process.

  4. LA needs a holding midfielder badly — someone to dictate pace in the center, b/c they had a lot of trouble keeping possession there all season long, and that just puts pressure on the D.

  5. The Galaxy need to get rid of Pires, Dominguez, Franchino if he costs too much, Alan Gordon even though he was somewhat productive but still not worth it, and all of the goalkeepers. And everyone who keeps talking about Beckham better get a grip. Lets remember that he didn’t win La Liga till his last season at Madrid. He’s still got something in the tank and even though he’s pricey, still worth it. I have faith in Bruce to take care of this mess unlike A*&hole Lalas who completely destroyed the team.

  6. Lose alot of the aging players, and just keep 2 or 3 veterans, they just can’t keep up over 90 minutes. Vanney is retiring so that is taken care of. Lose Franchino. Get some defenders, and two good midfielders. Lose Gordo, keep Buddle, and look for another striker. And yes get a good goalkeeper. This will probably not happen as Arena has a tendency to stick with “experienced” old players.

  7. #1 Get Bouna Condoul

    #2 Get CB in the mold of Marcus “Tulio” Tanaka (Urawa Reds)

    #3 Get a quality D Mid. Someone like Rico Clark (Houston Dynamo)

    #4 Get someone in the mold of the Brazilian CF Bare (Gamba Osaka)

    #5 Is Gomez still playing with Colorado?

    Just a list with the type players LA needs. Not the actual people. LE could never afford all four.

  8. I might be late, but i just heard for the first time on Fox Soccer Report show tonight on FSC credit Soccer by Ives on the topic of Freddie Ljungberg to Seattle deal. I’ve followed you from day one at the herald. Come a long way and u just getting started. Future is bright. Way to go Ives, u deserve it. Congrats, & keep up the good work!!!

  9. Well the first thing they should do is hire back Alexi Lalas so they can fire him again. I don’t think firing him once did justice to the situation.

  10. trade away Klein to RBNY and start franklin at RB with beckham at RM

    Win Win situation for both teams. Ny needs big time help at RM/RB and LA gets to dump salary.

    They should try to get back Dunivant too..he’s comming off an injury plus TFC isnt crazy about him…that will sure up the LB spot.

    They also need a Kovelenko or Beckerman type layer…Kovelenko is more realistic.

    Center Back maybe Bruce could pull some strings and get Berhalter to anchor the defense. If Suarez could do it…so can he

  11. Good idea with Orozco. Perhaps at keeper they could get someone like Adin Brown to come home, or maybe get Quentin Westburg to make the move from France.

  12. Gals will need to roll the dice on some foreign talent, but that’s always a gamble as DC found out this year with their rollercoaster season.

    Do the Gals at least have some high draft picks? Perhaps there are a few college defenders who can play coming through this year. I don’t watch any college soccer, so I have no clue.

    Hopefully they’ll right at ship and at least be competitive, as MLS needs a decent team in LA to give Golden Balls a chance to showcase his right foot.

  13. Ives – How about getting Michael Orozco for the center back? He’s young and has a lot of potential.

    Also, he’s from the LA area and has said that he’d like to return to the US in the near future.

  14. They could just buy Chivas USA with all the money they’ll get from Donovan’s transfer and Beckham’s “loan”.

    That’s a real team in LA.

  15. I would certainly add in that they need some stability in the front office and coach. Obviously they had to dump Alexi, and they don’t have the players you want to stick with, but they need a shot of stability.

    The other big thing is that the Gals need better production from their people in the $100k – $200k range, guys like Pires, Vanny, Vagenas, Jazic, the immortal Xavier, etc. In MLS, if you go the star route you HAVE to pick the right guys there.

    MLS transactions and allocations are still pseudo-mystical to me, but if they get serious allocations for Donovan that could work well, assuming you trust Buddle.

  16. Um…all of the above? Because I think that’s about their best shot.

    As much as the Gals would like him to stick around, I think they need to send Donovan to Europe and let Arena play with the transfer money. Donovan is good, but with the money he would fetch, the Gals would be able to get multiple quality players and prospects to build the team up in a year or two.

  17. Getting rid of Gordon is a mistake. He makes little money and actually produces well for a guy at that number. Fanchino, Pires, Domingez, Vagenas, and Jazic are dead weight. Those guys plus Vanney’s cap numbers leave the team with about 500K, if you add Donovan’s 400k that’s plenty of money to reload the team. I think they have to come from players in their PRIME from South America, Africa, or some young guys from the USL. Aging dudes from Europe aren’t going to cut it. Trust me I know.

  18. I would fix the Galaxy by selling Donovan to a European team so they will have way more cap space. After all, one player is replaceable, but when 2 players take up a solid chunk of the salary cap, you can’t do much to put a good team out there.

  19. I like Eddie Lewis, but picking him over Cory Gibbs was just plain stupid. The most obvious positions that need to be filled are GK, central defense, and a defensive midfielder would be nice.

  20. Move S.Franklin to central midfield and pair with McDonald and pray….leave Troy Roberts paired with J. Valentin with Randolph on the left (who looked very good against Dallas) and Klein on the right. The upgrade at central midfield will be immediate.

  21. To A.S.-

    Ruiz and Donovan were grandfathered into DP status without the actual DP title because they signed contracts that were higher than 450k before the rule came into effect. Eddie Johnson also had this type of contract. Don’t listen to people when they whine about LD and Ruiz making up 3 DPs on a team. Anyone could have gotten Ruiz, but we were dumb enough to do it.

  22. First thing I would do is write off next season. You’re not making the playoffs next year either. You’re going to have a lot of pieces learning from Beckham, Klein, etc. But they’re not going to gel in time to make the playoffs. Get that through your head early, and any success they bring you is a bonus. But you gotta go with “we’re not making the playoffs next year either as we try to find all the right pieces”. Shortly after that, you gotta aim for the following: regardless of the first 15 games of the year, we want to 22 points in the back half of the season. If we close out with 22 points from our last 15 games, that equates to a 44-point season, which puts us in the playoffs. But it’s going to take 15 games of playing with lineups and tinkering with personnel to find that formula.

    It’s all about expectation management with next year.

  23. Personally I would leave gordon, franchino, pires and vanney available for the expansion draft. Then I would sell landon, and do some homework. The thing they don’t need to do is rush, they need experience but also youth.

  24. BTW, does LA have another designated player slot (beside the one for Beckham)? I thought they had used one for Carlos Ruiz, but he was traded.

  25. Ives, I think you are on target with all of your recommendations. I like the Mastroiani idea. Too bad Arena couldn’t afford DeMerrit or Spector.

    P.s. Let me be the first to volunteer Zach Wells for a goal keeper. DC could stand to get back the 160K on that one.

  26. Thanks, Ives. I find MLS’s rules about player acquisitions – with the random rules about allocation money, allocation rights, discovery rights, (non)-free agents, senior/youth rosters, etc. – utterly incomprehensible. I assume this (non)-free agent/out-of-contract stuff in part of MLS’s CBA?

    In any case, I’d take the NBA’s ridiculously complicated player rights system over MLS’s any day.

  27. The sell Donovan and buy a replacement scenario can’t work. The league, in all of its infinite favoritism, allowed L.A. to take on 3 DP salaries with only one DP slot. Even I can’t see the league being stupid enough to allow that to happen after Donovan leaves.

    The best way to deal with it might be to sell Donovan and replace him with 3-5 guys all over the pitch. None of them will be Donovan but the average skill level of the club would jump way up from what is is now (two studs and a bunch of awful, awful hacks).

  28. To answer the question. I woudl start with a good keeper. That’s priority #1. Sure, a bad defense will always cause problems, but to see how much a good keeper can do for you, just look at what Joe Cannon did for the Galaxy last season. He was basically the reason they were fighting for a playoff spot on the last day of the season. From there, get a central defender. That should be enough to hold the flood of goals to a reasonable level. Next, I would get rid of Gordon, and with the money from him and Donovan, get at least one top level striker. Doesn’t have to be some big name, just someone who is a proven MLS goal scorer and has a few years left in the tank. Another option is a young stiker who has shown lots of promise. Ideally, I’d like to see Robbie Findley come back, but I know that’s highly unlikely. After that, I’d get a decent defensive midfielder. Finally, I’d finish building the back line.

  29. I would start by hiring an efficiency expert to optimize the concessions. Seriously: I miss 10 minutes of the second half just because I need some nachos?

    Second, I would get a new keeper. Someone who is proven. Not another “gee this young guy might have potential” keeper. Maybe Jens Lehman could use a tan?

  30. A.S., my apologies for using the term free agent. I wrote it assuming people know MLS rules. I changed it to “out of contract”. There is no MLS free agency, so LA would need to trade for Mastroeni’s rights or Coundoul’s rights (assuming either player actually wanted to sign with the Galaxy and MLS could agree on a salary the player would be willing to play for).

  31. The Galaxy can rebound with the quality players and proper motivation from Arena. A new GK and new defenders. Buddle can maintain his quality scoring next season as im sure he will since he’s probably looking for a move to Europe eventually. But the Galaxy will rise again.

  32. “While Coundoul is a real long-shot–he’s a free agent and Colorado isn’t likely to deal his rights to the Galaxy”

    Explain further, please!

    If Coundoul is a free agent, why does Galaxy need Colorado to deal them his rights? Or in MLS-land, does “free agent” not mean free agent?

  33. I would let go of Pires, Vagenas, Gordon, Dominguez, and Jazic. There have to be two better defensive midifelders that they could get for the price of one of those guys. Jazic could be traded to Toronto?

  34. Sorry – this question has been asked before, and will be asked again no doubt.

    How does allocation money acquired by a team impact the salary cap? My rudimentary understanding is that teams can assign allocation money to specific players so that their base salary that counts against the cap is lower than their actual salary. Is this about right?

    Secondly, how do teams get allocation money from selling a player? Can that allocation money get used as a way to raise the cap directly, or does it have to be assigned to specific players too?

    As for the Galaxy, this won’t be a one year fix. The players I’d keep: Beckham, Klein, Randolph, Franklin, Vagenas. Not saying all these players are starters, but they’re either starters or will provide semi-quality depth.

    I’d try to get Chris Eylander from the Sounders to serve as a cheap cap-saver between the pipes, then find two good central midfielders to start with. (I’d hate to see Chris go as a Sounders fan, but I have no doubt he’s ready to start in MLS.) A good midfield that can control possession could take some heat off a young D and allow them to develop.

    I fear the Gals will try to do in one year what they really can’t, because with Arena and Beckham comes the pressure to win now.

  35. Ives, all you talk about are defensive changes. If LA does lose/sell Landon like you recommend in point #1, then they’have no one to score goals. I wouldn’t count on Buddle and Gordon as starting forwards. They would still need to get a striker that could finish off Beckham’s crosses. What about Alan Shearer? He’s old enough to hang out with the rest of the aging veterans. Your points are well taken, but with out Landon, the Galaxy would need to find a great finisher of crosses. I remember Batigol wanting to play with Becks back in the day. He’s old too!

  36. I agree. But they need to be smart and get the most bang for the buck at each position. In the past they’ve failed miserably, but maybe this current stretch of terrible seasons will finally force management to pull their heads out…Or they’ll grasp at straws and sign another Xavier!

  37. Get rid of Beckham and rebuild. There are a few good players but they really need to trim the fat and rebuild with a focus on the football and not the club’s image, endorsment dollars, etc.


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