Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
For a team coming off of a championship run, the Los Angeles Galaxy have had plenty of major moving parts over recent weeks.
Between Landon Donovan going back to Everton on a short-term loan, Juninho returning to Sao Paulo, Donovan Ricketts being dealt to the Montreal Impact, Sean Franklin re-signing and David Beckham, well, still making a decision, the Galaxy remain the talk of MLS deep into the offseason.
Other teams in the Western Conference are positioning themselves for improvement while trying to catch Los Angeles, though, as teams that missed out on the postseason last year — specifically San Jose, Vancouver and Portland — have all added integral pieces ahead of their early selections in next month's SuperDraft.
Here is a look at the comings and goings in the entire Western Conference to date (and for a look at the Eastern Conference, read on here):
The most head-scratching offseason belongs to the Goats, who actively shipped out young building blocks Zarek Valentin and Justin Braun. Montreal snatched the surprisingly unprotected Valentin in the expansion draft and then traded James Riley to Chivas for Braun and Gerson Mayen.
Chivas did restructure its midfield by acquiring Ryan Smith from Sporting Kansas City and signing Ecuadorian Oswaldo Minda. The club also took a pricey gamble by going after Arturo Alvarez in the first stage of the re-entry draft — meaning it would be on the hook for about $200,000 if he signed — but the player is still said to be exploring his options abroad.
Coach Robin Fraser has other holes to fill on his roster after losing the likes of Paulo Nagamura, Andrew Boyens, Simon Elliott and Zach Thornton.
The Rapids have probably been affected more from a technical staff standpoint then a player personnel one this offseason. Coach Gary Smith is out, as is former general manager Jeff Plush. The team still hasn't hired a coach with the MLS Combine and SuperDraft around the corner and is lacking direction.
On the player end of things, the Rapids picked up Baggio Husidic and Hunter Freeman in the re-entry draft only to have Husidic spurn an offer to stay in MLS and instead head to Sweden's Hammarby, where he'll play for Gregg Berhalter. Freeman has yet to sign with the club, which managed to keep Brian Mullan on a new multi-year deal.
The biggest loss comes on the wing, where Colorado lost Sanna Nyassi in the expansion draft.
We're still waiting on FC Dallas to bring in some new blood. The team traded away productive winger Marvin Chavez for allocation money and Jeremy Hall for a draft pick and declined options for Maicon Santos and Maykel Galindo.
Aside from that, FCD is entering the new year with the same roster that burned out toward the end of the season and eventually succumbed in the wildcard round of the postseason. Add in the fact that the club lost its stadium sponsor as well, and it hasn't been the most productive of offseasons so far in Big D.
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
Following Landon Donovan securing a short-term loan to Everton and Donovan Ricketts being traded to Montreal, all eyes remain fixed on David Beckham, and until he finally inks a deal with Paris-St. Germain, there's still a chance he returns to Los Angeles.
While that sideshow has been taking place, though, the Galaxy lost a major piece of its central midfield with Juninho returning to Sao Paulo after two years on loan in Los Angeles. As pre-emptive cover for that loss, the club signed Alajuelense's Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas. Perhaps more importantly, the club signed a new deal with Sean Franklin, whose presence on the right side has been a big part of the Galaxy's success. Being able to sign U.S. youth international Jose Villarreal to a Homegrown Player deal was a major coup for Bruce Arena's side, also.
The Galaxy went nuts at the re-entry draft as well, making four selections in the second phase to add depth for what will be a packed 2012 schedule. The club brought in Boyens, Pat Noonan, Chris Leitch and Jon Conway while also retaining the rights to Frankie Hejduk and Dasan Robinson.
The Timbers have only made one acquisition, but it was a major one. Using the new rules for signing young Designated Players to their advantage, the Timbers tapped into the Colombian pipeline again to sign emerging 20-year-old forward Jose Adolfo Valencia. Between El Trencito, Jorge Perlaza and Diego Chara, Portland has a young Colombian nucleus to build around in its second year in MLS.
In terms of losses, Portland declined options on backup pieces Ryan Pore, Adin Brown, Peter Lowry, Brian Umony and Rodrigo Lopez.
REAL SALT LAKE
Like FC Dallas, RSL has quietly been waiting in the wings while losing a bunch of its depth. The most notable losses were Andy Williams (retired), Collen Warner (expansion draft) and Robbie Russell (trade to D.C. United), three solid contributors for Jason Kreis.
On the plus side, the starting lineup remains intact as the club gears up for another run in the CONCACAF Champions League. Even so, the club remains tasked with filling out the roster with the caliber of depth that has been a hallmark of the team for the last three years.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
It's hard not to like what San Jose has done so far this offseason. The club brought in two Honduran internationals, trading for Chavez with FC Dallas to add a new element to the wing and take some of the offensive pressure off Chris Wondolowski and signing centerback Victor Bernardez to be a presence along the back line.
The club also traded for Shea Salinas and Jean Alexandre, who can supply depth in the midfield and make up for the losses of Bobby Convey and Jacob Peterson, who were part of the bunch that left Buck Shaw Stadium along with Bobby Burling, Scott Sealy and Leitch.
The largest tasks the Sounders had this offseason were locking up Mauro Rosales to a multi-year deal and finding a replacment for Kasey Keller in goal.
Seattle accomplished both of those, by securing Rosales for the long haul and signing Austrian goalkeeper Michael Gspurning to take over between the pipes at CenturyLink Field.
After losing plenty of depth through the expansion and re-entry drafts (Riley, Noonan, Tyson Wahl and Nate Jaqua are all elsewhere), seeing Erik Friberg return to Sweden and having Terry Boss and Taylor Graham join Keller among the ranks of the retired, Seattle has started to fill those vacant roster spots. The club traded up in the second phase of the re-entry draft to take former D.C. United left back Marc Burch.
The Sounders also have turned to the international market, reportedly coming to terms with Swedish right back Adam Johansson and Danish winger Christian Sivebaek.
The Whitecaps have dumped a lot of complementary parts and picked up two potential key contributors as they look to make headway in their second season.
Between signing South Korean fullback Lee Young-Pyo and winning the lottery for attacking midfielder Lee Nguyen, new coach Martin Rennie has some interesting pieces to work into his lineup.
Looking longer term, the team secured a Homegrown Player deal for up-and-coming, 17-year-old Canadian midfielder Bryce Alderson.
In terms of who left BC Place, the Caps lost Jeb Brovsky in the expansion draft, traded away goalkeeper Jay Nolly and midfielder Shea Salinas, waived Nizar Khalfan and declined options on Pete Vagenas, Greg Janicki and Jonathan Leathers.