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LA Galaxy 2020 player postmortem: Emiliano Insua

Veteran found his footing and became a key player for LA.

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

Emiliano Insua was a fairly high-profile addition for the LA Galaxy in 2020. The Argentine left back had an illustrious list of clubs in his history — a member of the Boca Juniors youth ranks when Guillermo Barros Schelotto was still playing there — playing for Liverpool, Galatasaray, Sporting Club, Atlético Madrid, Rayo Vallecano and Stuttgart before coming stateside.

So it looked like a promising signing for LA, who needed defensive reinforcements. In the end how did it turn out? Both better and worse than expected.

Here are Insua’s statistics from 2020:

Emiliano Insua 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 22 22 1,891 0 2 2 0 2 0

I remember watching Insua play in the preseason against the Chicago Fire in person and his ability to spray passes all over the field was impressive. And his large frame rivaled that of fellow full back Rolf Feltscher, so LA may very well have had the largest full back duo in the league.

In the opening games, however, Insua looked pretty shaky. Adjusting to a new league, a new team, with a weak defense generally, on a team where the tactics were lacking, during a pandemic, is tough, admittedly. And he needed several games to find his footing in MLS.

Still, Insua became a steady presence and the most consistent defender on the team over the course of the season, someone who quietly got the job done, didn’t draw a ton of attention to himself, good or bad. In the end, he was one of two players on the team to play every game on the season, and he combined the ability to defend reasonably well with an elite passing ability for a player in his position.

I think the thinking coming in was that Insua would bomb crosses and Chicharito would head a bunch of those in, but we all know that didn’t happen for several reasons. Insua is a pretty good crosser, but the Galaxy just truly weren’t set up to be a cross-happy team. Had he played with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Insua may have had eight assists. As it was, he tallied two assists with the Galaxy.

Insua is out of contract now for 2021, and while the Galaxy said they were negotiating with him to return back at the start of December, in the meantime they’ve traded for another veteran left back, Jorge Villafaña, which appears to make Insua no longer needed on the roster, unless he suddenly wanted to be a backup or in a time-share.

Pricewise, we don’t know how much Insua was paid last year, but it’s a good bet he got paid more than Villafaña, so that frees up some budget for the Galaxy as well as an international slot. It’s a bit unfortunate, because Insua was solid most of the season, but we all know the Galaxy need to make upgrades in their defense, and this one may have ultimately been a business and roster decision.

So it’s pretty likely Insua is looking for his next club. He’s 32, he has a good track record, and he’s played in so many different countries and leagues, he’s bound to get some interest somewhere. I think on an MLS Cup contender, he can be a really vital piece for a team, but the Galaxy have too much work to do on their roster at this point, and so his tenure looks like it will be brief. We’ll see what the future holds for the Argentine.

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