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LA Galaxy 2022 Player Postmortem: Gastón Brugman

Veteran’s presence boosted G’z after arrival.

Los Angeles Galaxy v New England Revolution

Gastón Brugman was an intriguing addition to the LA Galaxy in the summer of 2022.

The veteran midfielder was far from a household name, moving to Italy from his native Uruguay as a youth player and turning pro in 2011 with Empoli. He bounced between Serie A and Serie B at a series of smaller clubs, before moving for a season on loan at Spanish second division side Real Oviedo.

In some ways, he’s a strong MLS signing, not a star but a strong pro. At the same time, the track record of players with the same kind of resumé in MLS have a mixed record over the years.

But Brugman was billed as a defensive midfielder, a need for the Galaxy midfield as they reached a malaise midseason. Without a traditional veteran d-mid Greg Vanney initially opted to use Mark Delgado and Rayan Raveloson as two-way midfielders who do plenty on the defensive side, and it didn’t quite work out.

A lack of service to Chicharito and supporting roles in Galaxy scoring for the central strikers led to the midseason slowdown, and with Raveloson getting pushed up in attack, he got much better, because that’s his job. Unfortunately, that meant the defensive side of the midfield was left wide open, and in stepped Brugman. In the end, it was effective.

Here are Brugman’s competitive stats with the Galaxy in 2022:

Gaston Brugman LA Galaxy 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 14 14 1,129 3 1 15 7 3 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 2 2 180 0 1 2 0 1 0
Total 16 16 1,309 3 2 17 7 4 0

Brugman played a few games when Raveloson was still around and before Riqui Puig was signed by LA. The difference was pretty stark. I don’t think Raveloson was bad when he got put in a role that he was better suited for, but Puig was transformative, not just for the midfield but the whole team. And Brugman went from looking like a 50-50 proposition to be a success to actually look great once Puig joined up.

In particular, Brugman got to show off not just the defensive stuff he was tasked with doing but also his own attacking chops. The Uruguayan isn’t a destroyer, he can hit a pass and step up to score a few, too, and he showed it.

I think the difference here, which I’ve written about before, is the component parts fit. Brugman mostly defends, but he can pick his moments in attack and he clearly is deadly in transition moments and times when opposing defenses struggle to get set. Puig is mostly an attacker but pitches in sometimes in the defensive aspects, and Delgado is much more of a traditional No. 8. Jonathan dos Santos may have had his high moments and his lows with the Galaxy, but he never really fit in with the other midfielders around him. In other words, Brugman may not have the same level of talent, but he fit the need much better.

But that makes it sound like Brugman isn’t good, but he was really strong after joining the Galaxy. And in fact, his profile here on his scouting report graph screams “deep-lying midfielder who does well on both sides of the ball,” or basically, JdS’ game, pretty clearly.

To provide just one more advanced stats data point, Brugman finished fifth on the Galaxy in 2022 in American Soccer Analysis’ Goals+ metric, with +0.92 goals added.

Brugman is not going anywhere, he’s 30 and is under contract with the Galaxy for three more years. If he can remain healthy, he seems like a building block for LA in that span, as he is unlikely to draw transfer interest given his age. I don’t think he’s a game-changing player himself so much, but a good foundational player who offers plenty of experience and enough skill to provide a platform for the attacking firepower. And every team needs several players like that to succeed.

But expect Brugman to be in the XI when the 2023 season kicks off, and likely for some time to come, after settling in quickly after his arrival this year.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.