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LA Galaxy 2021 season preview

Can the standard-bearers get back to the top?

The LA Galaxy had a good run as the top team in MLS, but that run came to an end several years ago. In the meantime, they’ve gone through several coaches, including a high-profile manager in Guillermo Barros Schelotto who came up completely short as an MLS coach. Now, with a new head coach with an MLS Cup-winning track record, and a mix of players on their roster that is still being rebuilt, the Galaxy hope 2021 will be a new dawn for the club and get them back on top of the MLS mountain once again.

LA Galaxy (2020 record: 6W-12L-4D, 10th in Western Conference, did not reach playoffs)

Head coach: Greg Vanney

Key additions: Jonathan Bond, Kévin Cabral, Samuel Grandsir, Derrick Williams, Victor Vazquez, Jorge Villafaña

Key losses: Cristian Pavon (maybe), David Bingham, Emiliano Insua, Rolf Feltscher, Joe Corona, Perry Kitchen

Projected Best XI: 4-2-3-1: GK - Bond; Araujo, Steres, Williams, Villafaña; Saldaña, Dos Santos; Grandsir/Lletget, Vazquez, Cabral; Chicharito

Best offseason move: Hiring Vanney as coach. While the Galaxy roster needed to be remade in many ways after five years of falling way behind the rest of MLS in many respects, there remains considerable talent on the squad, but they needed a better coach to get the best out of them. Enter Vanney, who took on a larger rebuild project with Toronto FC and made them one of the best teams of the past half-decade. If he can repeat that feat, LA will be competing for trophies again, and that’s where they think they belong.

Reasons to be worried about the Galaxy: Who will score the goals? Looming over all of this heading into the season is the status of Cristian Pavón, who was the only real attacking threat in 2020 while on loan and who the Galaxy had been trying to sign permanently. Complicating matters is a sexual assault investigation of Pavón in his native Argentina. Aside from the troubling accusations themselves, the Galaxy have said they won’t sign him with the investigation ongoing, so his return hangs in the balance. All this is to say the squad remains a work in progress.

Why the Galaxy are worth watching: There’s been holes in the roster in the past, to be sure, but again, this squad has been better than their performances have shown. If they can be back to their best — if Chicharito can finally find traction in MLS and become a consistent scorer, if Sebastian Lletget can play as well for club as he does for country, if the defense can stop shipping goals, if Jonathan dos Santos can play at Best XI standard again, if Victor Vazquez can stay healthy, if newcomers Kévin Cabral and Samuel Grandsir can have an immediate impact, if a Homegrown player or two emerge to be regular contributors — then they can be near the top of the standings in relatively short order. It won’t all be fixed overnight, but the combination of Vanney’s arrival and the roster re-tooling, plus hopes of bounce back seasons for several players means there is considerable optimism that the Galaxy have finally turned a page and will be elite again soon.