Earlier this week we asked our readers to take part in a vote to determine the All-Time LA Galaxy All-Star team. The results are in, and, without further ado, I present to you the All-Time LA Galaxy All-Stars.
Bench: Edson Buddle, Hérculez Gómez, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Marcelo Sarvas, Sean Franklin, Chris Albright, Jaime Penedo.
Manager: Bruce Arena
Before we get into the roster, position by position, I'd like to point out that from a tactical perspective, this lineup came out rather nicely. With the ballot not distinguishing between types of defenders and midfielders, the back line could have theoretically ended up with 3 full backs, or the midfield all attacking mids, or any number of unplayable starting 11's.
This did not happen. Not only did the team end up with a left back, two centerbacks and a player in AJ who is both comfortable and talented at rightback, the midfield ended up with Landon in his comfortable inverted left winger spot, Cobi Jones playing as a speedy right winger, and the tried and true Beckham/Juninho tandem.
This team also is built to play a very clear style. With the legendary Beckham/Juninho tandem as the fulcrum, and Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, and Cobi Jones running at speed as soon as the ball is turned over, this team would be absolutely deadly on the counter-- think 2011 on steroids. Add the goal scoring talent of Carlos Ruiz and the team becomes nightmare scary.
Let's break down the 18
Robbie Keane and Carlos Ruiz were tapped by the fans to start, and when it came to competition, it wasn't even close. Both were selected on over 95% of the ballots.
This was not the case for the two bench positions, however, which was absolute dog-fight between, Herculez Gomez, Eduardo Hurtado, Edson Buddle and Alan Gordon. Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez ended up coming out on top with Alan Gordon missing the bench by 3 votes and Hurtado by 5.
The fact that Alan Gordon was running neck and neck with Edson Buddle was especially surprising given the fact that it was only last year that Alan Gordon was public enemy number 1 amongst Galaxy fans and Edson Buddle, then a Rapids player, was still remembered fondly for his incredibly scoring years during the Beckham-Arena era. The poll, it seemed, was clearly skewing towards "what have you done for me lately?"
Landon Donovan was unanimously voted by the fans, and Cobi Jones wasn't very far behind. Despite the rocky start to the relationship, David Beckham seems to have made a lasting impact on our voters with his strong final years, coming in at third.
Perhaps the biggest shock of the entire vote was Juninho beating out Mauricio Cienfuegos by 15 votes for the final starting spot. While this may have diehards feeling like this:
... I'm not so sure the snub is as silly as it seems at face value.
Obviously, Mauricio Cienfuegos was a legend. I know it. You know it. Youtube knows it.
Simply put, the Galaxy would not be where they are today had it not been for Cienfuegos, and it seems kind of unfathomable that he did not make the first 11 in our vote. The vote obviously was skewed towards more recent players and it didn't help that a very high percentage of people who voted for Ciefuegos, also voted for Juninho, so he couldn't gain any ground.
That said, I think Juninho has earned an equally prestigious legacy. While not-possessing the flash of a playmaker, Juninho's place in LA Galaxy history is undeniable. Juninho has been the lynchpin of the current Galaxy dynasty, and since joining the team in 2010, he's guided LA to 2 Supporters Shields and 3 MLS Cups.
And Juninho's impressive trophy record isn't a matter of him riding the coat tails of big name Galaxy stars in the DP era. Yes the 2010 Supporters Shield, 2011 double, and 2012 Cup repeat, are inexorably tied to one David Beckham, but David Beckham's success in this era is also inexorably tied to Juninho.
What was once a midfield constantly pulled out of shape by David Beckham wondering around the field (a major defensive liability), instantly turned into a defensively stable line the moment Juninho joined. His work rate allowed Becks to wander without losing defensive integrity and this proved to be the key to turning around the offensively impressive but defensive disastrous early Beckham years.
Juninho was also not riding anyone's coat-tails in 2014 when the Galaxy won their fifth MLS Cup. In fact, LA wouldn't have even made it to the finals had it not been for this strike.
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As wrong as it is that Cienfuegos didn't make the starting 11, the fact that it was Juninho who beat him out makes it a little less infuriating. Juninho deserves his legend too.
The other big race was between Marcelo Sarvas and Mike Magee for the final bench spot. Marcelo ended up winning, but Magee was only 6 votes behind.
The vote for defenders was by far the most wide open, however, two nominees were able to separate themselves from the pack: Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza. While this continued the trend of the vote skewing towards more recent players, in my mind, these two absolutely deserved to finish one and two.
I have long argued that Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza are the best centerback pairing in MLS history. Omar Gonzalez is a physical specimen whose game is built around his strength and height, however, his biggest weakness is his often suspect defensive positioning. A.J. DeLaGarza has the best defensive positioning instinct in the league, however, standing at a very generous 5'9, he's not much in the air and can be muscled off the ball quite easily. Each of them is able to make up for the other's flaws, and since joining the team, the Galaxy have only failed to win MLS Cup once.
Alexi Lalas came in at third, and considering his relatively short Galaxy career and the legacy of the players he was up against, this seems like a case of his fame giving him the extra boost in the votes.The vote was so tight that only 8 votes separated him from the bench.
Todd Dunivant rounds out the starters, beating Sean Franklin by 2 votes. Chris Albright made the final bench spot, beating out Greg Vanney by a single vote and Caliguiri by 5.
The keeper vote turned out rather interesting. Bucking the trend of the vote skewing towards more recent players, Kevin Hartman won his starting position by a comfortable 35 vote margin. The real race was between Jaime Penedo and Donovan Rickets for the bench position, and here I think the vote did end up skewing towards the more recent player because in a 2011 season where over 20 of the Galaxy's games were decided by a single goal, Rickets was undeniably more important to the Galaxy's success than Penedo was in 2014.
This battle has now been made rather ironic, considering recent developments.
Manager and Mascot
Bruce Arena and Cozmo won their votes comfortably, with only 3 votes for Sigi Schmid and 5 votes for Twizzle.
All and all, it's a good group, and one heck of a scary team. As the team continues to grow, so will it's history, and and the years pass by, it will interesting to see how this roster changes. Will Giovani dos Santos go on to immortalize himself in Galaxy lore? Will Steven Gerrard? What about youngsters like Gyasi Zardes and Sebastian Lletget?
The future is bright for the Galaxy, but for now, this has been a cool exercise in honoring the past.
What do you think of the roster? What are the biggest surprises? What are the biggest snubs? Let us know in the comments section.