Stefan Ishikazi's transfer to the LA Galaxy is at the 99% stage where Bruce Arena simply has to wait tip everything is finalized. The LA Times is reporting that Ishikazi has been targeted by MLS before and that the player has been attracted to the US way of life. With a signed contract and only the rest of the paperwork to go, it's worth looking at what LA expects to get from him.
Arena has added two target forwards from the foreign market already, and now in Ishikazi the Galaxy manager has a player capable of delivering balls on set pieces. Which essentially means that outside of Husidic, every foreign signing has been made to improve the Galaxy's ability on set pieces.
Since David Beckham left free kick duties have been divided between Juninho and Landon Donovan, neither who were especially adept at it. Juninho averaged 1.5 accurate crosses per game, Donovan 2. Brad Davis, who was favorably compared to Beckham in Galaxy's last championship match, averaged 2.4 last year. WhoScored lists Juninho as strong at taking set-pieces, but no one is going to argue he's top of the league good.
So LA got average service last season, where did they fall amongst the league on set piece goals? League winning Sporting Kansas City had five more set piece goals than LA, ditto for Real Salt Lake. In both cases better than one in four of their goals came from such situations.
LA's set piece output is in line with the Seattle Sounders and Houston Dynamo. It's also well above non-playoff side Vancouver ,and in a completely different league than Chivas USA who had one set piece goal in all of 2013. Open play goals, outside of Chivas, are fairly even amongst all these clubs but ability on set pieces does seem to give teams a bit of an advantage.
Even outside the statistics, LA fans saw enough of them late in games last season to know their effectiveness. When players on both sides are tired, it's a great chance to steal three points or to avoid defeat. With an above-average defensive core and a stable midfield, these are the moves of a club that believes they stepped down a bit from great and a few close situations from getting back there.
The worry is that Arena is overvaluing his current attack. Are Baggio Husidic and a refreshed Robbie Rogers going to be enough to make LA's attack more dynamic? The team caught fire when Donovan and Robbie Keane simply did what they wanted, but when teams limited their involvement the club had few answers.
Just some things to think about as the offseason quickly transitions into preseason.