The LA Galaxy fielded 29 players in MLS in 2021, but there were an additional six players who were rostered but didn’t feature in league play this season. We kick off our annual season review series by briefly casting a light on these players.
In nearly all cases, these players still played significant minutes for LA Galaxy II in the USL Championship, and all of the players played, just not for the first team this season.
The outlier of the group, Gonzalez is 33 now and sat on the bench through the first half of the season, until he got a loan away to Costa Rican club Alajuelense. He’s played 13 games across all competitions in Costa Rica, and indications are he’s out of contract at the end of the year with the Galaxy and he won’t be re-signed. It was pretty obvious Greg Vanney didn’t rate Gonzalez, as the Galaxy kept adding center backs and at times played other players out of position and Gonzalez never got a sniff. But to be fair, his Galaxy tenure on the field was not impressive, and he generally looked like a player who could not keep up at MLS level anymore. I expect he’ll sign a permanent deal with Alajuelense in January and won’t be back in MLS as a player.
The 18-year-old academy product leveraged his playing time with LA Galaxy II in 2020 to a homegrown contract with the first team for 2021, and he appears to be a prospect for the future. After featuring in preseason, with the Galaxy pretty shorthanded and Vanney trying stuff out, Ferkranus didn’t feature in MLS but played plenty for Los Dos, notching 26 appearances (16 starts) for the reserve side. Ferkranus has pretty good size, although he could build more muscle, and young center backs usually need to wait their turn for a chance in MLS. That seems to be the plan for him at this point.
Another 18-year-old homegrown signing for 2021 (pictured top), Neal’s rise has seemingly been even more meteoric, as his handful of appearances for Los Dos in 2020 led to his signing to a full MLS contract. Neal also featured pretty extensively in preseason, and featured around the backline, although the Galaxy seem to think he’s a center back ultimately. But he suffered an injury early in the season, and that limited him for a while. Still, he made 14 appearances (13 starts) for Galaxy II, and like Ferkranus, he appears to be a player for the future. If he continues to build his game, maybe he’ll push for playing time in MLS in the near future.
The big-but-good-footed attacker provided one of the most surprising highlights of the 2020 season for the first team, but in 2021 he had to settle for some limited minutes with Los Dos, scoring three goals and an assist in 518 minutes at USL Championship level. Koreniuk is 23 now and so his “prospect” days are passing him by, but I still think he can do things that would be of use at MLS level. He may just be a tweener, the kind of player who may end up at a USL team and really ball out, but we’ll see if he gets more time with the Galaxy organization or moves on to greener pastures.
Justin Vom Steeg
Now 24, Vom Steeg is one of the longest-tenured players on the first team but has yet to make his MLS debut. In 2021, he was the primary starter for LA Galaxy II, playing 24 games and posted his best goals allowed/90 rate of his career, a decent 1.33. I’m not sure Vom Steeg has a path to playing with the first team, but obviously goalkeepers develop differently than outfield players and he’s still pretty young by positional standards. We’ll see what happens moving forward for him.
Now 22, Lopez has been a very long play for the organization since signing his first pro deal (in USL) in 2015, but he’s also still waiting for his MLS debut. In 2021, he only made five appearances for Los Dos, with Vom Steeg taking the lion’s share of minutes in goal. There’s a logjam at the position at the club, but as a homegrown, he probably has an inside track to remain on the roster for the time being. We’ll see.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.