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Is Bruce Arena Building an Early Case for Coach of the Year?

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The Galaxy haven't played up to their usual form this year, yet sit only one game out of first place. Is Bruce Arena pulling off a coaching gem before our eyes?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A few months into the 2015 MLS season it is hard to know what to make of the LA Galaxy. Are they worthy of the 4–0 beat down they received at the hands of the expansion Orlando City? Or are they a good team that has simply failed to live up to potential? The answer is somewhere in between, and is why I think Bruce Arena may be building an early case for coaching job of the year.

Defending a title is never easy. Every team you face is gunning for you and bring their A game. So this season was never going to be an easy one for the #FirstToFive Galaxy. The trouble began in the offseason with changes to the roster.

We lost the greatest American player ever to a well-deserved retirement. Then we traded Marcelo Sarvas and got nothing in return. Suddenly our midfield was in shambles.

Add to this injuries to Robbie Keane, Robbie Rogers, and Jose Villarreal; the disappearance of Gyasi Zardes for significant portions of games; and the number of players making their first MLS starts (Jameson IV, Maganto, Sorto). In the first 14 games Arena has had to field 14 different lineups. Even with the changes in the squad, I’m not sure that anyone thought we’d have to deal with so much adversity."Seventeen different players have missed at least one game because of injuries, international absences, red-card suspension or yellow-card accumulation...."

And all of this is happening without Steven Gerrard, who I think is going to be huge for the Galaxy.

But look at our points.

We currently sit fourth in the Western Conference standings, one game out of first place. We’re a couple of Alan Gordon miracles away from last place, and yet here we are.

Despite the 14 different lineups, despite going without three major contributors from last year’s team (Ok, we traded Sarvas, but he’s been hurt anyway), Bruce has found a way to get points. He’s found gems like Ignacio Maganto. He’s empowered players like Baggio Husidic to play out of position and not be exposed.

For anyone who has watched the team this season, there’s no way we should be sitting in fourth place based on how we’ve been playing. While we probably didn’t deserve to lose to Orlando the way we did, I don’t think many are saying this is a great team failing to live up to its potential. And yet, here we are.

Bruce Arena is a magician, making something out of nothing.

So it’s way to early to hand out awards, but if Bruce keeps this up this season may turn out to be one of his finest coaching jobs yet. And for someone like Bruce Arena, that’s saying something.