Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
The loss of David Beckham may be the most talked about offseason move, but the permanent addition of Juninho and the return of just about every principle player spells good things for LA.
2012 MLS record
16-12-9, 54 points (4th in West, won MLS Cup, sort of cool)
Juninho - no longer on loan, Carlo Cudicini, Colin Clark, Gyasi Zardes
Projected Starting Lineup (assuming health)
Cudicini; Franklin, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Dunivant; Stephens, Juninho, Sarvas, Clark; Magee, Keane
Cudicini; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Dunivant; Franklin, Juninho, Sarvas, Clark; Magee, Keane
The Optimist Says
The 2010 Los Angeles Lakers have three players left from that championship team still on the roster, there are three left on the Maverick's roster from their 2011 championship. The LA Galaxy have done exponentially better in keeping their championship roster together. Has the rest of MLS gotten better enough to dethrone them? Not very likely.
Of course the rest of MLS has gotten better. San Jose won the Supporter's Shield without paying anyone, the Seattle Sounders aren't going to go too many more years without grabbing some silverware. The Houston Dynamo? They could win with some salt shakers and a plate of sushi.
So the Galaxy won their second straight MLS Cup last year, now tied with D.C. United for most MLS Cups all time. That the Galaxy return most of the principles for another year is nothing short of fantastic. It just goes to show you that players want to stick with this club. There's an atmosphere, and these weird green pieces of paper, that really keeps players around.
The competition is stiff. The Seattle Sounders will be without Fredy Montero, but Eddie Johnson and the rest are certainly going to give the Galaxy a run for their money once again. San Jose return strong, but there's the possibility they could fall back to earth after that run last year. Real Salt Lake looks to be in a bit of a rebuilding mode.
Not having Landon Donovan for the first month of the season is a blow, but the Galaxy have plenty of options in the two spots he filled last year. With Edson Buddle blocking young talent and not scoring goals last year, Donovan was called on to start up top with Keane. With Buddle gone Arena has been using Magee with Keane, but with three good young strikers hopefully Arena starts working them in.
The Galaxy also brought in Colin Clark, so there will be experience navigating the space between the midfield and forwards. I like Franklin on the other wing better than Michael Stephens, because it frees Leonardo off the bench and lets A.J. DeLaGarza run on the wing a bit. Stephens should be one of the first subs though, settling down a match when it's time to bring the tempo to a leisurely pace.
Expect the Galaxy to be faster this year, as Beckham admitted himself, "I never lost pace because I never had it to begin with". Since the Galaxy ran so much offense through him (and rightfully so) it was slower and consisted of many long balls.
This preseason we've seen many more balls on the ground, with runs and passing lanes become more important than spacing and long passes. The problem with Beckham's long balls was that it cost the Galaxy possession. The possession stat is terribly misread, however Beckham was often sending up balls to two forwards taking on five defenders since the Galaxy didn't have wingers who could stretch the field.
This year, instead of siege and defend the Galaxy can do a bit more attrition. Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas are going to do just fine filling in Beckham's shoes.
Win MLS Cup? I think that sounds good, right? I mean it's been fun these last two years...so...yeah, win MLS Cup. Why not.