Trust me, I get it. The last thing anyone really wants to hear right now is more hopeful positives about the “potential” of the future. Another, ‘we’ll get them next year’ rah-rah column to help swallow the bitter pill that was the conclusion of the 2022 season. This isn't that, all least not really. In terms of securing their sixth MLS Cup, the LA Galaxy failed.
A club with the standard that they have is expected to be better than semifinal exits, or multi-year playoff droughts. While if many are honest with themselves, they probably didn't see Galaxy finish this well back in July, it doesn't make it any less bitter having to watch the squad go out in the semifinals, especially to the rivals. However, as much as you may not want to hear it, there really is some good foundation here. A handful of positives to take from the way the team closed out the season.
From every match to every minute—your support was undying.— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) October 21, 2022
Thank you, ’s pic.twitter.com/sU6IdWmrpv
Unlike last season, the Galaxy didn't spend all but one minute of it in a playoff position, only to lose out in spectacular fashion on the final day. Instead, they hit a wall early, found themselves out of a playoff spot on multiple occasions, fought back, and eventually finished the season so strong, they were able to host the opening round. A match which they won, before their season came to an end on the road. It's that finish that gives off the small flicker of hope for the future. A huge reason for the turnaround was how well the club did in the summer transfer window.
If we're all being brutally honest, Kevin Cabral and Diego Costa, while flashing moments, weren't really what the team expected or needed from DP players. Cabral is now in a multi-season slump, raising questions about his future and whether it's time to try something else at his position. Costa, while coming on for a stretch at the end, wasn't the goalscorer many pegged him to be coming into the MLS. Then the summer hit, and despite having very limited funds or roster spots, the team made a couple moves that would dramatically change the course of their season.
In July the team signed midfielder Gastón Brugman and a month later followed it up with FC Barcelona product Riqui Puig. While the latter has emerged as the no-doubt transfer of the summer, both played pivotal parts in helping right the Galaxy ship. Brugman started all 16 of his appearances and immediately took control of the midfield. He was able to pull the strings not just with key passing, but drawing defenders away from the likes of Grandsir or Chicharito to give them better looks to do their thing. He finished with three goals and an assist himself, only adding to what he brought to the squad in just his first weeks with them.
Of course, unless you've been living under a rock, we don't have to tell you about what Riqui Puig has done. It feels like he's scored in every important moment since his arrival, which has undoubtedly been a force multiplier. In just 11 starts, he scored three goals, had two assists, and made 18 key passes. Not just that, but his presence opened up so much more opportunity for the likes of Dejan Joveljić and Chicharito, who often took advantage.
While the Galaxy didn't go on a world-beating run and win 10 in a row or anything like that, they did find consistency with the new signings. They found more wins and results than losses. More importantly, they found more fuel for the fire. A passionate spark that wasn't going to stop until the G’s secured a playoff spot, which they did in the end.
This team may not have lifted the MLS Cup for the sixth time in 2022, but they did finish much better than they did last season. There was a bit of a sense of not having an identity last season, feeling lost. Unsure of if this team was even good enough to reach playoffs. This time around, there should be a sense of hope. Disappointment for sure, this is the Galaxy after all, moral victories mean nothing, but this isn't a team that needs to be given up on. Not yet. Not after what we saw at the end.
2023 will see Riqui Puig and Gastón Brugman start from match day one, with a full offseason training under their belts. It will see an even more seasoned and hungry Dejan Joveljić who will almost surely be cracking the starting rotation more often than not. Not to mention other returning players like Jonathan Bond, Grandsir, Delgado, and of course Chicharito. As crazy as it sounds right now, this is a team that could be one or two tweaks away from being legitimate contenders. This season didn't end because the Galaxy were a bad team, after all, they had the Supporters’ Shield winners on the ropes for a lot of the match, and if not for a last-minute miracle who knows what happens in extra time or possible penalties. The first goal was getting back to the playoffs, then winning a game. They did both this year. Now the goals are what they always are, compete, contend, and secure the sixth Cup.
How are you feeling about next year? Leave a comment below!