We can finally put 2021 all the way behind us. Earlier this week LA Galaxy opened up preseason training as they begin preparations for season two under head coach Greg Vanney. With a majority of the 2021 squad returning, and several new additions, the Galaxy head into 2022 ready to take the next step in their resurgence to the top.
While last season didn't go the way many fans wanted — especially when you consider the great start the team had — they still finished a lot better than many had them before the start of 2021. Of course, for a team like the Galaxy, in an area like LA, not even reaching the postseason is typically considered a failure. However, with a new head coach, a roster that was under construction most of the season, along with several critical, ill-timed injuries, the team did well to put themselves in a position for a legitimate playoff push to close out last season.
The team has been relatively quiet this offseason, with a couple new additions like defender Kelvin Leerdam, and one-time LAFC rival, midfielder Raheem Edwards. The Galaxy do have a DP slot open, as well as upwards of $4.5m in salary relief after recent departures of Jonathan dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget, amongst others. So expect the G’z to add at least one more “game-changing” type of player, should the right deal be made available.
Until then, this team will have to prove the start of last season wasn't a fluke. After injuries derailed momentum, then hitting a wall late-season, the question still remains as to which Galaxy is the real one? Is it the team that was slowly being considered a title threat after a hot start in the early months of the season. Or is it the team that hit the — almost expected — midseason wall, only to find themselves clawing at just the opportunity of extending their season into playoffs?
Of course, the biggest factor in all of this will be health. Injuries happen in sports, we all know this, but if the Galaxy can avoid any major, or prolonged injuries, then this is a team that is set up to compete. More importantly, they come into the new season with something they didn't really have a lot of last year, which is experience.
As mentioned before, this was a roster that was evolving all throughout the 2021 season, and with a majority of that same team returning, they now have a year of playing together under their belt. For some of them, they also now have a year’s worth of MLS experience.
Soccer in the desert #LAGalaxy to host inaugural at Empire Polo Club ✨— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) January 18, 2022
Galaxy kickoff preseason matches January 29th, with a closed-door scrimmage against Toronto FC, where they will see a familiar face across the sidelines — in former LAFC, now Toronto FC head coach Bob Bradley. The team also announced it will be hosting a preseason exhibition event, with the inaugural Coachella Valley Invitational. The team will face the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls in the event.
This is a big year for the club, with hopes of returning to the ‘gold standard’ the team help set with five MLS Cups. Chicharito is entering his third season with LA, Vanney is entering his second at the helm, and most of the 2021 squad is set to return. Regardless of what further additions are made to the squad before the start of the regular season, this is a team that will be expected to contend in a tough Western Conference. This year, they need to take a step forward if they wish to get back on top. No more excuses, just results.
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