With the LA Galaxy and DC United facing off tonight in a make up game from earlier in the season, I fielded some questions from Black and Red United to give them a sense of what's happened to the Galaxy this season.
1: How surprised were you when Landon Donovan announced his retirement? Were you holding out hope that he would play a few more seasons?
When Donovan announced his retirement, it came completely out of left field and honestly left me in a state of shock. For me personally, Donovan is the LA Galaxy and the national team after taking that torch from Cobi Jones, and that covers my entire conscious life.
I tried to rationalize by looking at who his contemporaries are. DaMarcus Beasley reinvented his role to a much scarcer to make another World Cup cycle, and now he's back in MLS. Look at players drafted the year Donovan was loaned to the Earthquakes and there aren't many household names. Ryan Nelson is coaching TFC now, Brian Ching retired, Eddie Johnson was also left off the World Cup roster, and Edson Buddle is not the no. 1 forward in Colorado.
He could have played until he could run no more, like I imagine Johnson and Buddle will do. That just hasn't sen Donovan's style, and more power to him spending some of his prime years with his family instead of on the road.
2: We all now know what Bruce Arena's opinion is on his team's failure to secure the services of Sacha Kljestan, but what are the fans thoughts on it? Do you think they'll try and get him again in the offseason?
Arena's comments really highlighted the dichotomy of management and ownership in this league. One of the reason coaches coming in from overseas have struggled so much is that learning how to win in this specific environment isn't easy. For most coaches, they play with the players they're given by a middle manager, and Arena is lucky enough to get his own guys but that comes with even greater awareness of how the people with the money want to run things.
If the Galaxy had everything set up to get Kljestan and other owners worked to make sure that couldn't happen, who is really to blame? AEG is just as complicit it putting these player acquisition structures in place, and while they've certainly pushed MLS spending forward it's not like anyone in the organization has come out in favor of abolishing allocation rankings.
I think in the offseason with that designated player spot opening, Kljestan becomes too small a fish. Robbie Keane isn't going to around forever, so LA has to start thinking now about who their next big draw is going to be.
3: How has designated player Omar Gonzalez looked since returning from the World Cup? How is the defense overall?
Getting the World Cup behind him has brought out some vintage Gonzalez, though we know that center back is very much a partner position. Partnered with A.J. DeLaGarza, he gets to be the guy who breaks up the attack with a partner quick enough to cover the ground he leaves unprotected.
Partnered with Leonardo, which has been a handful of times now with Robbie Rogers injured, things haven't gone as well. The soccer diarrhea that was the Columbus performance wasn't Leo's fault but the start in Commerce City was.
Outside of those performances, LA was starting to get into a good defensive rhythm and it showed up again when Vancouver came to town. When Gonzalez is really controlling the back line, LA can pull off the rare feat of dominating possession and shots in a convincing winning effort.