It wasn’t very hard to annoy Bruce Arena.
The former LA Galaxy head coach and general manager would often react to questions from the media with what could best be described as a cheerful disdain. Of course, part of the reason for this was Bruce being Bruce and keeping his cards close to his vest. (If you’re going to conceal information, might as well better be clever about it, and Bruce liked to dance)
He did seem genuinely annoyed by mundane questions about his team, specifically ones concerning situations he could not control. Sometime as a manager you are simply dealt a bad hand, and your performance as a coach becomes a matter of playing with the cards you have.
Now, Curt Onalfo might not command the same respect in the postgame studio that Arena once demanded, but if you injected the new LA Galaxy manager with truth serum, he would probably express a similar frustration with questions about his team, mostly because he doesn’t have his team yet.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t question marks with this squad that need immediate addressing. Giovani dos Santos has yet to find any sort of rhythm in the LA attack, and so far letting go of AJ DeLaGarza appears to be a disaster for a backline starved of experience.
But from the moment Bruce Arena accepted a second crack at the U.S. National Team just weeks into the off-season, the Galaxy organization were always going to be behind the 8-ball heading into 2017. Until this new-look roster has time to form chemistry and build an offensive identity, LA will be a continuous work in progress.
This team is incomplete. 27 of 30 roster spots have been filled, leaving three open slots. (One presumably for Miguel Aguilar)
More importantly, the starting lineup is littered with problems. Both of LA’s regular fullbacks Robbie Rogers and Ashley Cole are out. Rafael Garcia has done an admirable job in Rogers’ place, but he’s not a right back.
Joáo Pedro is a promising young talent, but at 23 years of age, the Portuguese midfielder is not a finished product. Like another of LA’s big offseason acquisitions in Romain Alessandrini, Pedro needs time to acclimate to the league on and off-the-field.
Gyasi Zardes is still recovering from knee surgery, which is obviously affecting the play of Giovani dos Santos, who relies on touches and the magic of his teammates to be successful and hasn’t received much of either. Whenever Gio has been paired with Zardes up top the two have been unstoppable, so when Gyasi returns, watch out.
And despite all of these issues, LA didn’t look too bad against a lean, mean FC Dallas side that scares most teams in this league. Despite the loss, its not difficult to be cautiously optimistic with the Galaxy’s overall performance. (When was the last time LA made a real creative attacking sub? We saw that on Saturday)
There will be questions in the future about this Galaxy team and the appointment of Curt Onalfo. But even if the Galaxy were to lose to Portland this Sunday, don’t get too emotionally invested in the result.
For the next few months, expectations should be tempered somewhat in La La Land.