A Galaxy We Won't Recognize

Los Angeles makes some switches ahead the 2014 season
by Roy Rosell   |   Tuesday, January 21, 2014

John Hefti Photography - LA Galaxy, MLSWith back to back championships, deep pockets and a roster boasting some of the best players in the MLS, the Los Angeles Galaxy were favorites to win the MLS Cup for a 3rd time in a row in 2013.

For half of their games, they played the part of champions very well. When the Galaxy were "ON" they dismantled their opposition, leaving their opponents dumbfounded and looking like toddlers in the big kid's playground. These performances left little doubt that LA was the team to beat.

Fortunately for the rest of the league, their season was plagued by a chronic inconsistency. Like a Mexican jumping bean, their path to the playoffs was erratic. This inconsistency led to their eventual downfall, where they bowed and seemingly surrendered mid-game to Real Salt Lake in the second leg of the Western Conference semi-final match. This time, the Galaxy looked like little kids, trapped in a Claret Red hell.

With the 2014 season rapidly approaching, Bruce Arena has wheeled and dealed to put together what he feels will be the group of players that will return the Galaxy to their place on the throne. Given the fact that Arena is the brains behind what is being considered the worst trade in the history of the league and arguably the eventual cause of the team's downfall in 2013 (Magee for Rogers trade), LA fans may find it difficult to trust his decision making.

2014 will be the make or break season for Bruce Arena to salvage a shattered reputation and ultimately, could decide his future with the Galaxy.

As of January 20, 2014, Arena has made the following changes to the team's roster:

Departures:
Sean Franklin to DC United
Jose Villarreal to Cruz Azul

Acquisitions:
Rob Friend from Eintracht Frankfurt
Adis "Baggio" Husidic from Hammarby IF
Samuel from Fluminense
Kyle Venter by 2014 SuperDraft
Raul Mendiola by Homegrown
Bradford Jamieson by Homegrown

These changes have solved one of LA's biggest weaknesses of the 2013 season: a bare bones attacking corps with an over reliance on Robbie Keane for goals. The acquisition of Samuel could turn out to be huge for the team, both literally, due to his 6'2’’ frame; and figuratively, due to the 22-year-old striker's impressive record and the fact that just prior to signing with LA, he was on the verge of signing with La Liga's Espanyol.

Rob Friend, another towering presence at 6'4’’, provides depth and a headache for opposing teams on corners and free kicks.

Long gone are the days where an injured Keane means putting in an inexperienced and often ineffective Villareal or McBean and expecting them to carry the goal scoring burden.

But one decisive piece to the puzzle continues to be overlooked: Who will be sending in crosses to these newly acquired giants? As it stands, LA will be relying on Robbie Rogers and Zardes for that responsibility. As 2013 has proved, Rogers cannot be relied on for major responsibilities and Zardes' skills are better used elsewhere. Neither of these players have the ability to effectively serve this role.

With no wingers providing accurate crosses on a consistent basis, Friend and Samuel will be stripped of their greatest assets: handling crosses, finding space, and one touch finishes. In order to take full advantage of these new signings, it is crucial that LA breaks the bank to invest in a world-class winger.

The lingering question then becomes: Will Arena recognize this gaping absence in his attacking force? If so, will he fill it with the right player?

NEXT UP: March 8 – Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif. 10:30 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

Roy ROSELL

Nationality:
USA
College:
Cal Poly Pomona
Club Domestic:
LA Galaxy
Club Foreign:
Arsenal
Absolute fanatic, especially passionate about MLS and it's growth. LA Galaxy columnist with no filter and a knack for the controversial. Travelled the world watching soccer matches, but there's no place like home.
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