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LA Galaxy 2020 player postmortem: Yony Gonzalez

Late arrival had deck stacked against him in loan stint.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at LA Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Galaxy were swinging for the fences, in a sense, when they signed Yony Gonzalez on loan in the second transfer window.

The Colombian joined from Portuguese giant Benfica in mid-August, the team looking for scorers with the local return to play about to kick off. After parting ways with Aleksandar Katai in the summer, LA desperately needed a scoring player on the right to hopefully complement Cristian Pavón and Chicharito, and push the Galaxy to a higher level than they had been playing in 2020.

But the saga was really only beginning. Gonzalez may have been signed before the local return to play, with 18 games left to play (in the end, one wasn’t played), and while the team didn’t necessarily expect him to arrive from that first game, I think the team expected he would arrive in short order.

Nine games later, he had finally passed through the immigration red tape and coronavirus protocols, and got to make his debut Oct. 3, with just over a month left in the season. I don’t know the full backstory to this, I think the pandemic and gum in the immigration works that was out of Gonzalez’s and the Galaxy’s control played big factors here, but the delay seemed out of line compared to other players around the league signed in the window. At any rate, Guillermo Barros Schelotto was initially regularly asked when Gonzalez was going to arrive, and before long, I think reporters literally forgot about him, after Schelotto sighed wistfully again and again over the player not yet available or even in the country.

Here are Gonzalez’s stats with the Galaxy:

Yony Gonzalez 2020 LA Galaxy Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 9 7 481 0 1 13 6 0 0

Once Gonzalez got on the field, he was heavily relied upon, with the Galaxy’s season slowly going down the tubes by that point. Could he step up in a pinch?

In a word, no. I’ll say that the fixture congestion, LA’s absolute desperation in throwing him in the deep end immediately, and you know, not getting on the field until October all hurt him and those factors were not down to him. He was put in a tough spot, was asked to rack up minutes after going about seven months between games! That’s not easy at all.

Still, he was not effective. Gonzalez started seven games and played nine, and scored no goals and an assist. He didn’t really look like he clicked with his new team, and credit to him, he seemed to be picking up knocks and trying to play through them as well as possible.

Again, with no settling in period and ramping up to full action almost immediately probably contributed to the rust and ineffective play. Essentially, he went from a very long layoff to playing every three or four days for over a month straight. That’s super hard.

I also think that Schelotto’s gameplan, such as it was, did Gonzalez no favors. 2020 showed the attacking approaches were three simple ideas: Hit crosses; play for set pieces; give the ball to Pavón and let him dribble through seven defenders and hit a golazo. Needless to say, this approach did not help Gonzalez — a goal-scoring winger, not a chalk-on-his-cleats crossing winger — in making any kind of impact.

So the numbers are poor but I’m getting increasingly fired up that he was not given a fair shake under the circumstances. I have to imagine this was a frustrating spell for him, aside from pure playing time. Guy probably didn’t even get to properly sight-see in Los Angeles! The Galaxy only won twice in nine games!

Still, having said all of that, I’m not really surprised the Galaxy declined Gonzalez’s loan option, likely to purchase, for 2021. For starters, the Galaxy’s priority is Pavón and if they purchase him outright, they’re going to have to pony up to do it. That blows the budget, most likely. In addition, I don’t know for sure but I expect the purchase option from Benfica for Gonzalez was probably rather high, the Galaxy taking a calculated risk in a pinch and picking him up as a rental with an outside shot of him performing well and forcing their hand. As it happened, he didn’t, so they won’t.

And then there’s the new coach and needing to give him a chance to put his fingerprints on the roster. LA seem to be looking to run it back with nearly all of the roster they had in 2020, if Pavón returns. A player like Gonzalez may not have gotten a fair shake but he was a rather easy call in parting ways and giving the new coach and Dennis te Kloese some flexibility in addressing clear holes in the roster for next year.

So that’s the story of Yony Gonzalez’s brief tenure with the LA Galaxy. He’s 26, got a lot of years ahead of him in his career, somewhere, but I’d wager he’s likely to head back to South America and hopefully find some stability there. I think he was set up for failure in a lot of ways here, most or all out of his control, but he didn’t provide the spark the club needed and he’s moving on. We’ll see what the future holds for him from here.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.