Baseball Prospectus has a long running column entitled Transaction Analysis, and before we head into the postseason I thought it might be worthwhile to look back at the LA Galaxy transactions of the last year and how they've gotten the team to this point. There's one transaction that's still causing controversy amongst the fan base, but let's start with the offseason transactions and work our way up.
There were seven players who had their options declined at the end of the 2012 MLS season, and they've had varying levels of success in their next endeavors. First up:
Defender Andrew Boyens: Don't feel bad if you forgot about Boyens, he only made four appearances in all competitions with the Galaxy in his one year with the team. Boyens came into the league in the 2007 MLS Superdraft selected by Toronto FC and released the following year. He trialed with the New York Red Bulls in 2008 and got a three year deal, then did not have his contract renewed for the 2011 season. Chivas picked him up for a year then declined his option, at which point the Galaxy picked him up in the re-entry draft.
Boyens missed seven weeks in 2012 recovering from sports hernia surgery. Since leaving the Galaxy he hasn't found a new club and is no longer appearing with the New Zealand national team.
Transaction analysis: Freed up roster room. Homegrown player Oscar Sorto was signed soon after. Win.
Midfielder/Defender Bryan Jordan: Bryan Philip Jordan was a Ruud Gullit signing who over five seasons with the Galaxy became a name amongst fans. Only make 56 appearances during that span made him expendable, but he was able to get a look from the San Jose Earthquakes in the Re-Entry Draft. After the Quakes released him from camp without a contract, he got on with the San Antonio Scorpions and just recently was able to jump over to Europe.
The fourth tier BSV Schwarz-Wei Rehden brought him over to German where a local paper called him "Beckham's Kumpel" or buddy. So that's Jordan's calling card in Europe, friend of Beckham. Hopefully he's getting on there.
Transaction analysis: Freed up roster room. Greg Cochrane to an extent fills the role Jordan used to. Win.
Midfielder Kyle Nakazawa: Nakazawa retired at the age of 24. He was a local prospect out of Torrance, went to UCLA and was drafted in 2010 by the Philadelphia Union. When the LA Galaxy brought him over in 2012 he came with a draft pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. That second round pick became Kofi Opare who's had a role in recent Galaxy CONCACAF Champions League victories.
Transaction analysis: Declining his option freed up roster space and the pick that came with him became Kofi Opare. Another win.
Forward Pat Noonan: Noonan is now a Galaxy coach, after a pro career that spanned about a decade. So this is going to be another easy win. Gyasi Zardes was the first forward type signed after the options were declined, so the Galaxy gained an assistant coach and a homegrown forward type. Hooray!
Forward Chad Barrett: Barrett is the first that gives me pause. Barrett has made 17 MLS appearances for the New England Revolution who picked him up after LA declined his option. That's only resulted in two goals for the Revs, one against the Galaxy in a blowout, and he's still the frustrating forward he was in LA. However, someone like Barrett who can be sequestered to the bench until an emergency could have been useful. Having a backup forward pool entirely made up of young players has at times been frustrating.
Transaction analysis: Neither Chandler Hoffman nor Charlie Rugg bring what Barrett could. If Arena saw Magee the midfielder as expendable, he should have kept around someone to be Magee the spot starter at forward. Can't believe I'm writing this but Barrett or someone like him at a discount could have helped.
Midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson: Unlike Beckham, who clearly was the orchestrator of his exit, Arena's "Wilehlmsson has other options he wants to look at" is less clear. Wilhelmsson has returned to the middle east, now with Baniyas SC where he's scored three goals.
It's quite possible that Wilhelmsson never felt comfortable in MLS and wanted to go back to a more familiar scene, but it's also just as likely that Arena balked at his price tag and he was thrown out with the bathwater. What he brought to the Galaxy (the ability to put Landon Donovan up top and push the entire offense forward instead of back with Beckham) is something Arena has struggled all season to recreate. Colin Clark was originally brought in to fill the Wilhelmsson role but he's non-existent.
Arena then shipped Magee off to Chicago for the rights to negotiate with Robbie Rogers, and Rogers' inability to stay healthy has defined much of the second half of the season. There was a moment where the trade paid off and LA climbed as high as second in the Western Conference. Now going into the playoffs Arena has had to get Gyasi Zardes to understand the role and the other side of the midfield is so untrusted that not a single shot came from that direction in the match against Portland.
Transaction analysis: Moreso than the loss of Beckham, this is the player role LA have been trying to replace all year unsuccessfully.
Midfielder David Beckham: The effects of David Beckham leaving have been all over the place. Beckham still had half a season left in him and helped Paris-St. Germain to their first title in years. Now Beckham is involved in bringing MLS back to Miami.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, LA have had to find a new most marketable star. The sale of Beckham jerseys continues, and with Landon Donovan on walkabout to begin the year Robbie Keane got a large marketing push. Looking at the billboards around the city, Beckham's absence has really allowed LA to market players like Omar Gonzalez and Juninho more.
On the pitch, Marcelo Sarvas was brought in the year before as an heir apparent in the midfield while LA was finally able to purchase Juninho's contract outright. The two of them have done outstanding this year as the battery in the midfield. It took Juninho until the recent match against Seattle to show free kick effectiveness, but their distribution has been top notch.
Transaction analysis: Done in the best way possible. Beckham's ghost still lingers at the StubHub Center, but the central midfield hasn't skipped a beat.