While dealing with the likely cause and desired effect of the Alan Gordon acquisition, it's important to remember this happens in the shadow of the LA Galaxy trading Kofi Opare for an allocation ranking that ultimately may not get used this season. Bruce Arena has a reputation for being able to game the player acquisition system, but let's take a look at who he's brought in recently and how they worked out.
2012 MLS SuperDraft
The LA Galaxy picked up Tommy Meyer and Kenney Walker in 2012, which got them a C+ draft grade. Chivas USA got a B- for Casey Townsend who currently plays on the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the Rapids also got a C+ for drafting Tony Cascio currently on loan to Houston. Which is all to say thus far the 2012 draft has worked out decently considering other teams at that grade level. Meyer has twice as many appearances with the senior squad as he does with LAII, and Walker has three more appearances with the big club.
I'm not one to claim they have more upside than they've shown, they're replacement level players stepping in when others deal with injuries. LA Galaxy II was the best thing to happen to both these players, giving them the platform to relaunch in a way that the reserve league doesn't give.
2013 MLS SuperDraft
Here's where Kofi Opare came from, and it's not as positive of a story. The Galaxy got a lesser grade on this one, a C rating, and only one player is still with club club; Charlie Rugg who has a whopping 151 minutes with the senior side. Greg Cochrane has been turned into a 2016 draft pick thanks to the Chicago Fire, and Kofi Opare looks like he's been turned into a allocation ranking that expires in a month.
If the Galaxy don't use that allocation ranking, the 2013 draft is officially a punt up to 2016 which certainly wasn't the intent at the time. Rugg won't be protected in the upcoming Expansion Draft, he's not going to get called up to the senior side this season, and he could easily end up being a USL Pro lifer.
The other C grade in that draft went to the Columbus Crew, who have already let go of Ryan Finley and Drew Beckie.
2012 Discovery Signings
Marcelo Sarvas is the standout of this class, together with Juninho now the rock in the center of the field for the Galaxy. Christian Wilhelmsson didn't help the Galaxy long term, but as a midseason acquisition was a big part of LA winning MLS Cup 2012.
Two key signings are enough to say job well done, but let's look at the rest of the class. Edson Buddle wasn't a Discovery Case as LA still held his rights, but he was a bust in his time back in LA and now is Colorado's problem. Leonardo however is still LA's problem, extending his time with the club on a free transfer in the 2012 offseason.
The trades inside MLS were pretty bad. Kyle Nakazawa retired, Bill Guadette floated into the ether, and David Junior Lopes was the Leonardo of 2012.
Jose Villarreal has been a key signing from the academy.
2013 Discovery Signings
Jaime Penedo and Carlo Cudicini were the only true Discoveries in 2013, with the former becoming necessary after the latter was such a ginormous bust. Juninho became a permanent member with a paid transfer and the Galaxy traded away Mike Magee to get Robbie Rogers' rights.
The Academy signings shine bright as Gyasi Zardes is coming into his own and Oscar Sorto works on his game. The inner-MLS trades not so much.
MLS Re-Entry Draft
Is a waste of time. Next.
Their stories are still being written with only half a season with the club, but thus far Stefan Ishizaki and Dan Gargan are the only new signings to make a long term impact. Alan Gordon is now the ninth new contract of the 2014 season, and if he works out that's a third of the signings making a contribution to the senior side.
Looking at the past two years, that actually qualifies as a successful rate of return. Like goal percentage, batting average, and photography, player acquisition is really an exercise in limited futility. The majority of the time one will be unsuccessful, but continuing to try your luck eventually brings something special.