Photo by ISIphotos.com
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.
I may be the right one!
Scored plenty of goals, gave up too many. Sign a good keeper from USL. Someone who has shown they can organize the back. Sign better defenders. Keep Landycakes and Becks.
Tall order…LA will suck again in ’09.
let arena call all the shots. he knows how to win, meaning find good cheap college players to stay under the salary cap
Arena will overpay to bring in both Berhalter and Feilhaber and either Chris Seitz, Matt Pickens or Dominic Cervi for GK. Still doesn’t fix the team or replace Donovan’s offense…
Actually, the Galaxy began their rebuilding process by firing Lalas and Gullit, perhaps the most mis-matched GM and coaching combination in league history. Gullit didn’t care and Lalas destroyed the team with his constant trades and player transactions. Any MLS team that hires him for a front-office position in the future is terminally masochistic.
With the expansion draft coming up, here’s how I’d fix the Galaxy:
Protect McDonald, Valetin, Randolph and Jordan, perhaps Tudela (who showed some promise at the end of last year). Randolph is an underrated defender with speed (at least, he was last year). If Valentin can get over his injuries, he would add some much-needed toughness and speed in the back. Jordan scored a goal as a starter against Chivas USA, which has a pretty good defense. McDonald just needs playing time to get used to the league.
Expose Klein, Vagenas and Gordon. Klein might be a pro’s pro who can overlap and cross well but he’s a ghastly defender. He loses possession easily with the ball at his feet, has no speed to cover even average forwards, has no field sense as a defender and can fall for even simple dekes (as Kenny Cooper showed Sunday).
Vagenas can do only two things: square pass and back pass. My maternal grandmother can do that, and she’s been dead for 20+ years. Besides, age and salary work against both Vagenas and Klein. Gordon has neither speed nor touch; he’s a project who has outlasted his value.
…and to Dream, as much as we’d probably like to get rid of the truly awful Julius James, why on earth would we want Ante Jazic? Both Wynne and Brennan are twice the fullbacks he is and each has a capable, young Canadian backup already.
“Get Dunivant back….TFC isn’t crazy about him.”
Yeah, when not in possession of facts, just make stuff up. Source? No, because there isn’t one. TFC has never indicated anything but admiration for Dunivant’s abilities and he’s been a regular starter. He spent most of this season out with a knee injury.
LA has to build from the back, like any rebuilding soccer team. Two centre halfs are a good start. They have a plethora of potential holders to choose from, then need one game-winning striker.
In total: Goalie, two centre halfs, one mid, one striker. They’re not that far off, their defense just stinks.
The Galaxy are not one piece away. They should finally blow up the veterans and build a new young team that can be together for the next 5-6 years…
(1) Pray Seattle takes Alan Gordon in the expansion draft. 12 goals in 65 appearances isn’t worth all his walking/jogging.
(2) Waive Pete Vagenas, Joe Franchino and Eduardo Dominguez in December.
(3) Sell Landon Donovan (Europe), Alvaro Pires (Brazil), Josh Saunders (USL) and Josh Wicks (USL) in January.
(4) Trade Edson Buddle and Chris Klein to Seattle for the #1 and #16 picks in the draft. Buddle will never be as good as he was under Gullit, so trade him at the top of the market. The Galaxy need to stop playing people out of position, and that means there is no room for Klein.
(5) Trade Ante Jazic to Toronto for Julius James. Jazic has unique value for Toronto; James could join Franklin in a new, young defense.
(6) Draft generation adidas players with the #1 and #3 picks in the draft. No need to add to the salary cap, and this reduces the number of $17k contracts on the developmental roster. Galaxy need more guys who aren’t struggling financially, and can concentrate on soccer.
(7) Stop trading young players for MLS vets that are past it. This has been at the core of the Galaxy’s steady downslide since 2004. Yes, they won the title in 2005, but that team was 13-13-6, and was literally the worst team that was not an expansion club.
(8) Buy young internationals with the $1.2MM in cap room saved from steps 1-5. They need Angelino versions of Ekpo and Rocha. Productive guys who will be apart of a new young core, rather than older guys looking for one more paycheck.
(9) Upgrade Ely Allen, Bryan Jordan, Josh Tudela and Brandon McDonald to senior roster contracts (see point 10). Allen and Jordan can battle gen-adidas players Sesay and Bowen for substitute striker spots. Galaxy have a great winning percentage when Tudela plays – commit a senior roster spot to him. McDonald showed great potential as a holding midfielder of the future.
(10) Pay your starters in the $125k-$175k range and your back-ups in the $60k-$75k range. Get rid of the $33k minimum salaries for senior roster guys – you can’t live off that in Los Angeles. Again, they need guys who can concentrate on soccer, and not have to worry about how to live.
There is no quick fix to the depth of this problem. The best we can probably hope for is another 1 to 2 years of mediocrity and then build the team around astute draft picks and signing of players who have the potential to develop (not people past their best like Mastroeni).
McCarthy is a possible good start for holding mid, but we also need a creative force in midfield to quicken the pace from an area of the park that has been slow and uninspiring for several years.
Arena is going to have to earn his money to prevent the Galaxy from continuing their downward spiral.
First get rid of Paul Bravo.
1.) then rid of Dominguez, Franchino, Pires, Gordon, Cronin, and Troy Roberts.
2.) sell Donovan.
3.) Draft a keeper
4.) spend big money on a international keeper
5.) let Bruce fill in the gaps with defensive minded players.
6.) Buddle and Jordan and Sesay can provide on foward.
Step 1: Sign Chris Seitz, or Nick Rimando. Whoever RSL is willing to part with would be a huge improvement. Or Matt Pickens. Or maybe even Brad Friedel.
Step 2: Try and have Bruce Arena beg Pablo Mastroeni to come to LA instead of going overseas to a lower league team.
Step 3: Acquire AT LEAST 1 central defender worth a ****, if not 2, from somewhere. Maybe Orozco, I hear he is native to the southern-California area.
Step 4: Add a forward to the mix to bolster your depth charts.
Rimando is a great idea for the Galaxy. Maybe a three way trade with NY Red Bull:
NY gets: Klein
Real gets: draft picks
LA gets: Rimando
Think its a fair deal that helps each team.
I think I saw Lalas going through my trash and recyclables the other night! He’s grown back the beard.
Amazing that no one has mentioned the name “Paul Bravo” and the word “fire” in the same sentence.
RSL will not give Findley back, but they might part with Rimando, a quality keeper since Seitz is about ready to take over the reins. RSL also might part with Kovalenko, a quality D-mid. He has a high salary and they are stacked at the D-Mid position (Beckerman, Sturgis, Russell). The question is what could they give RSL that RSL would want. Can’t think of anything that they have right now, but I don’t know if they have some allocation money (or some other prospects that I don’t know about that they can give).
Use the allocation money from Donovan to pay New England for some talent scouts.
Posted by: Ryan | October 28, 2008 at 11:42 AM
There you go, somebody else who “gets it” about the current state of MLS. Although this year will be difficult for New England in the playoffs, they are clearly working a plan to bring in tons of young talent with the one quality you can’t coach – speed! They not only bring in the right young talent, they seem to have a underline philosophy by which they approach personnel. The Galaxy clearly doesn’t have one, but there are signs that they’re building one in their youth program.
Again people, stay in reality. I’ve already mentioned Gaudette or Jordan or somebody like that in goal, and McCarty as your holding mid. I just read that Jeff Parke is out of contract with the RedBulls. And yes, I know his suspension carries into next year, but he would only miss 6 games, yes? Parke is young, realitively cheap, a decent player, and certainly an upgrade over what the Galaxy had there last season. Theres your spine. Use the allocation for Landybaby to get you a stud, and there ya go. They still won’t make the playoffs, but at least they would be better.
Hardly the main issue, but…
I think Cronin can become a good keeper. He has the best hands in the league. Get some clips and watch him on crosses and corners – the guy plucks the ball out of the air like a tight end. I think time and a good defense in front of him will make him a good enough keeper, at least.
I also think slide Eddie Lewis to left back, Franklin to right and spend money on two central defenders and a defensive mid. (God love ya, Alexi Lalas. In Peries you found the world’s only graceless Brazilian.)
Then beg RSL for Findlay back…
They need to trade for an old friend Marcelo Saragosa to lock down the defensive midfield.
Use the allocation money from Donovan to pay New England for some talent scouts.
Or tell Benny Feilhaber to stop parading around Europe like he’s ready for that, and bring him in. Pablo would be a good fit, and he could also help out at CB.
Notice to all players: With every loss one person will get their eye poked out by Posh’s steel nipples.
No – on LA picking up Stern John. We’ve been asking the Crew front office every year for the past seven to bring him back! I would not be surprised to see Convey in a Galaxy uniform (even with Lewis there). He hasn’t been seeing any time for Reading and has fallen out of the Nats picture. He needs to get first team games somewhere to have a shot at WC 2010. Besides, Bruce always seemed to have a man-crush on him.
BrianK, Re: Repatriation. Seriously? Where is the realism (or accuracy???)
DeMerit: Plays in the Championship (and could certainly make a Premier League Team)
Simek Ditto. Once he gets healthy, he will be a transfer target for the PL
Pearce: plays in the Bundesliga. Not exactly a “lower” division.
Davies: Has had a great run of form with Hammarby. In the next couple years, if he continues the form, he could be on his way to a bigger team, better league. The Galaxy doesn’t qualify as either.
Califf: Another guy who is in great form. He left San Jose (I think) to pursue a European dream. As a result, he has been called into MNT camps. He seems pretty unlikely to go anywhere but up (or stay in Denmark) right now.
Nguyen: Flame out at PSV. Ineffective at Randers. Why bother?
Perkins: Has played very well for Valerenga. He only left MLS recently.
Lapira: I know nothing about this dude. Ireland, maybe?
Convey: A liability–always injured
Whitbread: Refer to Ethan’s post. Players with these potential opportunities are not going to come back to the MLS, let alone a dysfunctional team like the Galaxy.
Zimmerman: Couldn’t hack it with reserves in the Bundesliga. Playing for a cellar dweller in Austria. He is too delusional about his abilities at this age. Or just stubborn.
Failhaber: Liability–injured and useless.
Gabe Ferrari: On loan to Serie C team (Perugia, I think). Another guy that has shown a distaste for MLS and would rather train with Sampdoria/play in Serie C.
You just can’t go pick people off because they are young/in lower divisions. There are REASONS they are playing where they are, and I doubt any of those reasons is “the Galaxy’s roster was full.”
Someone asked about Zak Whitbread, rumors have it that he is going back to the Premier League (and if so, back in to the national team picture? Pearce out?)
You don’t fix them…
Let them continue to be the clown of MLS
When was the last time Chris Klein was in the playoffs? He is bad juju.
Very simple. Get someone like Shalrie Joseph. The Galaxy were 4 wins away from an OK season and have/had probably the worst central midfield in the league. One good player at that position would make all the difference. Two would be fantastic, even with LD gone. They’d easily double their points even with a single new good central midfielder. Admittedly, such players are as in demand as quality strikers. All of Donovan’s salary should go to that one person (assuming he does not pull a Reyna, of course)
There’s alot of talk about getting new players but finding new foreign talent is a crapshoot – just think of the multitude of foreign players brought in this past year whom were dropped by mid-year.
Really which of MLS’s new signings made an impact? Jamison Olave is one. That English midfielder in San Jose. Anyone else? Really?
Plenty of flops all right on the transfer market.
However, it is still easier to replace you seven foreign players because you can recruit them from anywhere and there is a vast amount of out of contract players to choose from. This is usually the easy part that can lead to quick turnarounds.
Replacing the underachieving American players is tougher due to tight transfer rules and a general lack of options (there aren’t overly many in Europe that would necessarily make an impact.
Donovan, Buddle, Klein, Lewis and Franklin deserve new contracts. I’m not sure of anyone else. But how do you propose to pick up a half-dozen MLS-ready American players for nothing?
Tough. Good luck.
Worse, if Donovan leaves, then the Gals are screwed. There is no way to replace his production and I’m not convinced that Buddle can duplicate his year even if Donovan is there to take some pressure off him.
LA Galaxy remind me of Tottenham. All “O” and no “D”. If they lose their frontline like Tottenham did (Berbatov and Keane), they’ll be an open disaster next year. I just don’t see how LA would suddenly get better without their best player (Donovan).
Just knowing AEG, it’s hard to predict how they would/will react to losing one of the league’s biggest stars in Donovan. Even though it doesn’t seem smart to 99 percent of us, I would have to guess they look for somebody with good name recognition to fill his space.
I don’t think Jazic is a bad player at all….I’d trade Dunivant for him if LA were interested. Would work for both sides.
I also think the poster who said taking Lewis over Gibbs was insanity.
It is time for RE-PATRIATION! Given the sad state the Galaxy find themselves in and that the league is expanding by 2-3 teams in the next few years,…it is plainly obvious that MLS needs to start repatriating a significant amount of the good American talent that is playing in lower level leagues or divisions in Europe.
DeMerit, Simek, Pearce, Davies, Califf, Nguyen, Perkins, Lapira, Convey, Whitbread, Zimmerman, Faulhaber, Gabe Ferrari, etc., etc.
In addition, I am a proponent of selling Landon (for his own career development) and purchasing a player like Nerry Castillo who can put some Mexican fannies in the seats at Home Depot.
Semtex, semtex and more semtex
I think that the Galaxy should start off by moving Arena to GM only, then prying Osorio off the Red Bulls… just for the drama.
I just read what SonicDeathMonkey wrote and he has a point with Dax Mccarty. he’s young, reliable for the most part. if galaxy cant get mastroeni, then go after mccarty.
Sonic Death Monkey,
You took the words right out of my mouth. It seems that SHyndman does not rate McCarty very high. He covers a lot of space, passes well, and can maintain possession under pressure situations.
I would get rid of Vagenas, Vanney, Pires, Dominguez, and Franchino. I would try to trade Klein while he is still producing consistently. Move Franklin to his natural right back position.
Keeper, Central Defenders, and central attacking midfielder are high on the list. Bring in an international striker that could compliment Buddle. Scout USL for Talent.
How much would it cost LA to bring in Micael Orozco from San Luis? He would bring stability to the backline.
LA needs to go younger and more athletic.
all galaxy needs is defense. no keeper will have a chance if the line infront of him is paper thin. i say give cronin and wicks a second chance and just improve on the defensive line, only keeping sean franklin.
Disband the team.
Okay, I’m trying to stay in reality here, unlike most of you. We’ve established that the Gals need a spine (I would say a new spine, but they never really did have one to begin with). The one guy who keeps coming to mind, and is realistic, is Dax McCarty. For whatever reason the coach at FCD obviously doesn’t have him in his plans. Here’s a young, talented, tenacious kid that will play with bite in the middle. Put him as your holding mid, get a solid keeper, and find a quality striker that can latch onto Beckham’s crosses. Work on a CB that won’t crack everytime, and maybe they sneak into the playoffs next year. Doubt it, but maybe.
What about Marcus Hahnemann in goal?
How do you fix the LA Galaxy. Here’s a simple answer: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and duplicate their formula.
They have taken the Zenit St. Petersburg playbook in terms of scouting exactly the same kind of players, but they went to Africa, South America and the former Yugoslavia to find unsigned talent that escaped the bigger clubs. The average age of their squad is less than 26, and they have controlled their payroll while doing it. Moving failed parts around the pitch is not the answer to the Galaxy’s problems. They need players and an MLS superdraft isn’t going to fix it either next year or the year after.
I agree with vasco. LA Galaxy 1996-2008. RIP.
AEG is squarely to blame for the failure of this organization.
Support the Goats.
small point – Josh Saunders not Josh Kennedy
Chivas has Dan Kennedy.