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LA Galaxy 2020 player postmortem: Rolf Feltscher

Veteran showed more of the same in his third season in MLS.

MLS: LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rolf Feltscher returned for his third season with the LA Galaxy in 2020, and it was more of the same.

Feltscher stayed healthy in 2020, which was an improvement on his first two seasons with the club, but the book was pretty well known on the Swiss-Venezuelan right back. He was built like a linebacker (in soccer terms), chipping in on the attack sometimes, occasionally able to lock down his side of the field defensively, but also capable of letting opponents walk on by and displaying costly defensive lapses.

Here are Feltscher’s stats in 2020:

Rolf Feltscher 2020 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 17 13 1,247 0 2 6 1 2 0

I think Feltscher came in and worked pretty hard, but the overriding opinion in the fanbase was that Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s reliance on Feltscher held Julian Araujo back. Of course, Schelotto found a way to play both right backs, with the team needing a right winger most of the season and Feltscher’s struggles meaning Araujo playing higher up gave the team more defensive cover, although that is a pretty galaxy brain approach to fixing what ailed the team.

But Feltscher also struggled in comparison to Emiliano Insua. The fullbacks were very similar in style and look, but whereas Insua struggled at first for the Galaxy before settling in and ending up as one of the most consistent players on the team in 2020, Feltscher continued to make the same mistakes and there was no sign of improvement. That’s what was frustrating, with Araujo already equal to or better than Feltscher, seeing him start nearly every game just didn’t make sense given the track record and the need for the team to make changes.

I think there was concern when the Galaxy announced at the end of the season that Feltscher was out of contract but they were in negotiations to bring him back for 2021 — really?! — but Feltscher decided to head back to Europe, joining up with Wurzburger Kickers in the German 2nd Division. It’s possible that he has a personal connection to the club or people there that I don’t know about it, but I think even his destination showed that the Galaxy had overrated him. Wurzburger Kickers were adrift at the bottom of their league when Feltscher signed, looking like a near-certainty to go down. On the bright side, Feltscher’s first three games have been unbeaten, with Kickers winning one and drawing two games, and now they’re within four points of the team directly above them in the table. Maybe they can crawl out of the mire to prevent relegation and Feltscher can play a key role there.

Still, Feltscher deciding to move on was the best move for the Galaxy. With Araujo being held back with the veteran taking most of the playing time ahead of him, Feltscher’s departure means Araujo can get a regular run with LA (if he’s not sold abroad, which I don’t think he will be this window) and that should help the youngster’s development, especially with a coach who knows how to organize a defense in Greg Vanney.

Feltscher had a run with the Galaxy, and I think the bad moments overshadow the fact that, yes, at times he was really pretty solid and was a decent defender for stretches. The Venezuelan national team has rose in prominence in recent years, and he stayed in the side even as they got better and had a better crop of players coming through, and that shouldn’t be discounted.

But I think in the cold light of day, it’s also true that Feltscher struggled to be replacement level at right back consistently throughout his run in LA, and 2020 showed nothing to indicate his game would get any better. The defense clearly needs upgrades, and so it was time to part ways.