What does the 2010 season hold for the LA Galaxy?By iyeo • Mar 25th, 2010 • Category: Features
Coming off a 2009 season that saw them rebound from three straight disappointing seasons and come to within a win of the MLS Cup, the Los Angeles Galaxy enter the 2010 campaign looking to cash in on what they started last season. Expect some obstacles to be thrown their way, however.
Not much was expected from the Galaxy heading into the 2009 season. Los Angeles had missed the playoffs for the third straight season in 2008, gone through a purge that saw then-head coach Ruud Gullit resign mid-season and then-general manager Alexi Lalas fired, while its two stars left the team for loan spells at AC Milan and Bayern Munich, respectively–neither with much intention of returning to the Home Depot Center. While Donovan eventually did come back to Los Angeles in time for the start of the 2009 season, Beckham and AC Milan waited until the last minute until the two clubs agreed to a deal that would allow Becks to rejoin the Galaxy in July.
The 2009 season itself was a roller coaster. Bruce Arena, who had assumed both the head coach and general manager positions in August 2008, revamped the roster, mixing in veterans such as defender Gregg Berhalter and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts alongside young and exciting players such as rookie Omar Gonzalez. The year got off to a rocky start, as LA went just 1-1-9 in its first 10 games. But the Galaxy’s chemistry soon took hold, and with Beckham back in the lineup, Los Angeles got hot and captured the Western Conference regular season title. The Galaxy then defeated Chivas USA in the aggregate round and fought off Houston in the Western Conference final, but could not hold a first half lead against Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final in Seattle.
The 2010 version of the Galaxy is virtually the same as last year’s squad, though several key additions were made to bolster the team’s depth and youth. Los Angeles acquired three Brazilians, Alex, Juninho, and Leonardo on loan from Brazilian club Sao Paulo. Alex and Leonardo are expected to add depth to the team’s backline while Juninho could bring an offensive spark to the central midfield. Arena has also brought in old mainstay Clint Mathis and drafted midfielder Michael Stephens. Their presence will be sorely needed, as the Galaxy’s successful 2009 season earned them a place in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament, meaning the Galaxy will be playing midweek matches during the most crucial point of the MLS Season.
Other than that, not much had changed. Donovan returns to anchor the Galaxy attack and should be stronger due in part to a successful loan spell with English side Everton. Edson Buddle will look to rebound from a disappointing 2009 campaign while Mike Magee and Alan Gordon will add depth to the forward spot. Chris Birchall and Dema Kovalenko will once again patrol the midfield alongside Juninho while Berhalter, Gonzalez, Sean Franklin, Todd Dunivant and AJ DeLaGarza will once again split time in the backline and Ricketts is still between the pipes for Los Angeles.
There is one question mark surrounding the team, and it’s a big one: Beckham, who returned to Milan on loan in hopes of making England’s World Cup roster, tore an Achilles Tendon and will miss the World Cup. His prognosis as far as the Galaxy’s 2010 season is concerned range from him missing the entire season to being back as early as September. Los Angeles has also been hit by the injury bug, as Gordon, Magee and Jovan Kirovski are currently nursing knee injuries. All three are questionable for Saturday’s season opener against the New England Revolution at the Home Depot Center.