Every season is full of ups and downs, and that’s certainly true for the LA Galaxy, but beyond the big storylines for the team, every player had their own story in 2022.
With that, we kick off the annual Player Postmortem series by beginning with the players who didn’t see competitive action with the Galaxy first team. From here, we’ll have a post on every player who did play competitive minutes on the squad, but each of the players who did not feature — obviously — have their own story for this season nevertheless. And away we go...
It was a tough year for Sueño, who ended up missing the whole year with a knee injury. He was extremely good to start the 2021 season with the G’z, but a chronic issue cropped up and he was hobbled down the stretch. Head coach Greg Vanney said that a hyperextension led to a bone bruise, which then appeared to be a cartilage issue in his knee. After a minor surgery this spring, he didn’t bounce back, and LA opted to put him on the season-ending injury list by May, as he had another surgery to try and correct it, as outlined by Vanney.
I think Villafaña’s absence both was and wasn’t felt. With him out, Raheem Edwards started the season as the left back and was initially effective, particularly in attack. When Villafaña was ruled out for the year, the Galaxy traded for Chase Gasper, a defensive-minded left back coming back from some personal issues, and it made a lot of sense. But I think the Edwards-Gasper platoon was really inconsistent. Sometimes, the player there was fantastic, and sometimes, they were the player struggling most on the field. In that way, LA certainly could have used Villafaña’s experience and steady play to even out the peaks and valleys.
Now 33, with a lot of miles on his legs aside from this year, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Villafaña. One of the greatest stories in American soccer, we’ll see what comes next in Sueño’s career and if it will be with the Galaxy.
Judd, 23, did play in the Galaxy’s Leagues Cup friendly against Chivas, but after signing a first-team deal in April, he never got the initial bow in MLS that I think was expected.
Instead, the combative forward was a fixture for LA Galaxy II, and had 13 goals and 4 assists in 25 appearances for Los Dos, leading the team in scoring at USL Championship level. He was named Galaxy II Player of the Year, and has shown across the last two seasons he can absolutely succeed at a Division II level.
We’ll have to see if he can make the jump up to MLS or if the USL Championship is his ideal level. Los Dos have had some success with a forward pipeline from Los Dos to MLS...when those players head to other MLS teams. Ariel Lassiter has become a regular for Inter Miami as a support striker, while Ethan Zubak got some playing time this year at Nashville SC. And with Chicharito and Dejan Joveljić getting the minutes, it’s not a shock Judd didn’t see the field for the first team. Even so, you’re only a couple injuries away from casting about for options, and we’ll see if Judd sticks around next season to fight for minutes, or if he’ll head elsewhere for more consistent playing time. I certainly think MLS Next Pro won’t be as competitive, so staying to play with Galaxy II is probably not the best move for his career. We’ll see what happens.
The center back, now 19, entered his second season as a first team player by being assigned again to Galaxy II. Aside from a productive stint with the U.S. U-20s, which won the Concacaf U-20 Championship, Ferkranus’ playing time for club was limited this year at all levels. He featured in just four games at USL Championship level with Los Dos, before he was loaned out to fellow USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC in late-July. He made five appearances, two starts, as Phoenix limped to a surprisingly poor finish.
It’s unclear what happened with Ferkranus. Did he ask to go on loan to get more playing time, or did the Galaxy just send him out? Does that mean his days with the organization are numbered, or will he get a fresh start in 2023? We’ll have to see what the club’s end-of-season personnel decisions will be, and go from there.
Once one of the top goalkeeping prospects in MLS, Sanchez is 28 now and was the Galaxy’s 3rd-string GK in 2022. No surprise, with Jonathan Bond and Jonathan Klinsmann getting the competitive playing time, the road to first-team playing time was long for Sanchez, who signed a one-year deal for this year.
As a result, he went to Galaxy II, starting 13 games in USL Championship play this year. He split time with Eric Lopez, and while I wonder why Lopez was dropped from the first team and yet brought back to Los Dos anyway, Sanchez’s stats were not as good across the board compared to Lopez. With Galaxy II being a reserve team, obviously chopping and changing lineups can be disruptive to a goalkeeper’s flow, but that’s not the ultimate objective of a reserve team, it’s trying things and giving reserves playing time.
We’ll see if Sanchez is back, but it’s hard out there for a 3rd string GK. So we’ll see what happens.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.