The LA Galaxy 2017 Preview

by Luis Baron

The 2017 MLS season is upon us and the Galaxy are ready to begin their long journey towards the playoffs and MLS Cup.

After a turbulent offseason, which saw many veterans retire, fan favorites traded, fresh new talent being signed and young talent called up to the senior team, the Galaxy roster is now set for what should be a roller coaster season.  However, not everything has gone according to plan and the season has yet to start.  Let’s break down this year’s Galaxy team.

Let’s begin with the team’s depth.  There isn’t any.  Unlike last year’s team that had a solid bench filled with players that could start on other teams around the league, this year’s bench is filled with young players unproven at the MLS level.  Any sort of injury to a starter would handicap the team immensely.  Unfortunately, this has already happened and the effects are showing.  The team will start the season without Gyasi Zardes, who hasn’t played with the Galaxy since last August, Robbie Rogers, who is out for an undisclosed amount of time, and Ashley Cole, all of whom are injured.  

The backline was the Galaxy’s biggest strength last season.  They allowed the 2nd fewest goals in 2016 behind only Colorado.  The same starting back 4 would return this season making it the less of a focal pointin the offseason.  However, with 2 of those 4 injured to start the season, the defense is now the weakest part of this Galaxy squad.  Rafael Garcia will start the season at right back, a position he is still learning after playing defensive mid for most of his career.  Dave Romney will fill in for Cole at left back but he doesn’t have too much experience at this level.  This makes Jelle van Damme and Daniel Steres that much more important this season.  Daniel Steres will have to have a better season than he did last year and Van Damme needs to repeat his MVP-like performance of last year for the Galaxy to stay within striking distance in any given game.  Brian Rowe returns as goalie and will be the last line of defense.  With such an inexperienced and untested backline, he will have plenty of action this season and will be called upon to come up with big saves more often.

Going into the offseason, the midfield was the weakest part of the team, but after signing Jermaine Jones, Romain Alessandrini, and Joao Pedro, the midfield is now the strongest part with the most depth.  Alessandrini will provide some much needed spark in the offense, while Joao Pedro will act as the enforcer and holder in the back.  Jermaine Jones can do both as the box to box man.  The final starting midfielder is Sebastian Lletget who will play out wide and is expected to have a superb season.  Should any of these guys go down, Ema Boateng, Baggio Husidic, and Raul Mendiola are capable of picking up the slack.  With the exception of Jones, all the midfielders are young and athletic.

It’s a sharp contrast to what we had last season and expect a lot more quickness moving up and down the pitch.

Up front, Giovanni dos Santos will be expected to continue where he left off last season.  With Robbie Keane no longer on the team and Gyasi Zardes out with injury, Gio will be the primary target going forward.  He will need to prove this season that he is the go-to guy for goals and might bear the burden of having to carry the team on his back when the big moments arise.  Ariel Lassiter and Jack Mcbean will finally get their shots with the first team.  However, with so little experience at this level, expectations should be down to a minimum.  5-7 goals for either one should be considered a success and would take some of the pressure off Gio.  

At the end of the day, the one guy who is responsible for how the team performs is head coach Curt Onalfo.  His hiring was lackluster at best, and many fans are skeptical about how the team may perform with him at the helm. His 2 previous stints as an MLS head coach were mediocre at best and he was unable to win a championship in USL as a head coach for Galaxy II.   Sadly, Onalfo is already on the hot seat with many fans who will be looking for any reason to criticize him and ask for his firing.  The front office however, seems to have all the confidence in the world in Onalfo and are “all in” for the foreseeable future.  Onalfo is going to need to have a heck of a season to win the fans over. He certainly has his work cut out for him as the lack of depth and a list of injuries are already working against him.  Fans will need to be patient before they can truly judge his and the team’s performance.

The Galaxy and it’s fans are going to have a very turbulent roller coaster type ride this season.  It will surely have it’s highs and lows.

The key word this season will be patience, which unfortunately, fans have very little of as it is.  The MLS season is 7 months long and is more of a marathon rather than a sprint.  Starting off slow doesn’t hurt the Galaxy, who will need some time to regain some of their injured starters.  So what should we expect this team to do this year?  It may be very difficult to accept, that 2017 is a rebuilding year and accepting that and adjusting expectations is the first step.  Yes, the Galaxy are the premier team of the league, but every so often, a team overhaul is needed.  For the Galaxy, that time is now.  However, that’s not to say that the Galaxy are doomed to fail this season.  When healthy, the Galaxy have the talent to compete against any team in the league.  If all cylinders are firing come August, and if the injury bug decides to take a vacation, the Galaxy may surprise many of us.  If the last couple MLS seasons have showed us anything, it’s that peaking at the right time is vital to winning a championship.  Let’s hope the Galaxy can get their act together before it’s too late.  


Goals academy Pomona!

We Gotta say, Goals Academy in Pomona was pretty awesome!

With 10 Pro-Turf fields and a very nice Sports Lounge the location feels big. We were able to check out The Futboleros put on a entertaining show for the kids, roll around in Knockerballs and shoot around the ball in the provided fields. We also met German and the The Galaxy Star Squad!

All in all the day was a success. Check out our coverage of the days event in the video below! 

For info about the location follow their website here goals-soccer.com

 

 
 
 


My First Love

Luis Baron

 

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      It was the summer of 1990.  I was a mere 9 years old.  I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the summer when I would fall in love with and become an LA Galaxy fan. Yes, I became a fan 6 years before the Galaxy’s existence!  

    Italia ’90 was my introduction to soccer.  However, like most Americans, I rejected it for all the same reasons; it was boring, there was no action, and I didn’t know any of the players.  My short attention span didn’t help either.  I couldn’t sit through 5 minutes of a game without wanting to get up and do something else.  As the tournament went by I started to notice that my father was highly interested in it and had a good knowledge about the sport.  This was strange considering that my father had virtually no knowledge of sports to begin with.  Yet, there he was, watching every game with a passion unlike I had ever seen from him.  Even when his home country of Colombia wasn’t playing, he was glued to the television set.  How could the most boring sport be the one sport that piqued my dad’s interest so much?  At first I thought it was just my father, but I soon learned that my entire family had the same affection for the sport.  My grandfather and uncles were also fixated on the television watching this tournament that I was completely oblivious to.  At 9 years old I already had considered myself a sports fan and had already watched the Dodgers and the Lakers win a championship. How could I have not heard of the World Cup before?  What made this tournament and sport so special?  I felt like the odd person out for not knowing.  In fact, I felt outright foolish.  At that moment, I decided to learn about the sport of soccer, so that when World Cup 1994 comes around, I’d be ready.  

    At the time, there was no soccer anywhere on television and the internet was not available to me.  Any knowledge I would inherit would come directly from my father.  From him I would learn that there were other tournaments besides the World Cup.  This is where I would find out about the Copa America, the Copa Libertadores, and World Cup Qualifying.  My lessons in the sport would come from watching these games.  Having no soccer available on television meant that we would have to go to a local bar or restaurant and watch the games on closed circuit television for $10-$15 a person.  Those times were by far the best memories I have watching soccer, and I have to admit, I miss them.  The sport was so obscure at the time, yet I felt like I was part of something much bigger.  The few people who filled that small bar or deli had more passion than any bar that was packed to watch a Superbowl.  For those couple of hours we were brothers rather than strangers.  They welcomed me as one of their own and would also come to teach me about players and the sport.  For the first time I felt a part of that invisible circle everyone talks about.  

    As my knowledge of the sport expanded into more than just national teams, I started to wonder why the US did not have a soccer league.  It was discouraging that I could not watch the sport live at a stadium and instead had to watch every game on TV.  I also didn’t have a local team that I could call my own.  However, when my father told me that a league would start in 1996 I felt like I had hit the lottery.  I couldn’t wait to attend a game.  I couldn’t wait to feel what I felt in a bar of dozens inside a stadium filled with thousands.  I couldn’t wait to find out what team would be awarded to my city and what name would be given to them.  Well, that team would come to be the LA Galaxy and I became an instant fan.  Actually, to reiterate, I was a fan 6 years before their existence.

    I’m very proud to say that I have been a fan since the very beginning, and I’m even prouder to say that my motives for becoming a fan were not superficial.  They were based on an emotion that stemmed from this beautiful game.  I didn’t choose the Galaxy because of their success, which would make me a bandwagon fan.  It wasn’t my father’s team that he passed on to me.  I didn’t become a fan because it was the hip fad to do at the time.  No, I became a fan because I yearned to call a soccer team my own.  I was just lucky that it happened to be the Galaxy.  


This article is a part one of a two article series

Part two coming soon


Heart & Desire

by

David Orona

 

Adolph Joseph DeLaGarza came to the LA Galaxy as the 19th overall pick in the 2009 MLS Draft along with University of Maryland teammate Omar Gonzalez.  The pair was coming off a year that saw Maryland win the College Cup and AJ was named co-MVDP.  In their rookie year the pair went on to help the Galaxy turn around their last place finish in 2008 to making the MLS Cup Final in 2009.  DeLaGarza and Gonzalez went on to form one the best center back pairings in MLS between 2011-2012

 

 

AJ is known as one of the hardest working, toughest and smartest defenders in the league. He appeared in over 200 games for the LA Galaxy, In that time, he has won 3 MLS Cups and 2 Supporter’s Shields. Only 4 other players in Galaxy history have served the team longer, legendary players like Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones, Kevin Hartman and Mauricio Ceinfuegos.  

 

AJ was the last remaining link to the 2011 MLS Cup winning team, that is until he was unceremoniously traded to Houston for $125,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and $50,000 in General Allocation Money.  Ironically the trade was born at the same event that brought him to the Galaxy 9 years earlier, the MLS Superdraft.  New Galaxy GM Pete Vagenas said that the decision was a very difficult one to make but they,

“…feel that this will give us flexibility to strengthen our roster going forward with the use of additional allocation money.”

 Sep 14, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez (4) celebrates with Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza (20) after Gonzalez scored a goal during the first half against the San Jose Earthquakes  at Buck Shaw Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

 

A champion and a leader in the team, AJ was the type of player that would put his body on the line, he played with heart and desire, and he was far more than a fan favorite, many LA Galaxy fans feel like he is family.  AJ grew up with this team, became a man. In the farewell he posted on Instagram he said, 

“since coming to LA in 2009, he got married, adopted a dog, had two beautiful children, bought a house, won a few games and a couple of trophies.”
— DeLaGarza

 

I remember when AJ first announced that he and his wife Megan were expecting their first child.  I remember being strangely excited for him, perhaps because my wife and I were expecting our second child.  A few months later, I met AJ at a team event, I asked him about his baby, he excitedly said that the baby was due in September so he still had some ways to go.  It was only a few weeks later that I read an article revealing that AJ’s son had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and he learned that his son would never be a professional athlete.  AJ was devastated but confided in the strength of his wife Megan. The DeLaGarza’s focus turned to meeting with doctors day after day to plan out what Luca’s first few days of life would be like.  Immediately Luca would need several surgeries to even have a chance at life. Most people would be consumed by this weight and other things in their lives would suffer, not AJ, it motivated him, he saw training and game days to be a welcome distraction but his dedication and heart was never questioned. 

 

As fans, we form bonds with players, we enjoy getting glimpses into their personal lives through social media, but AJ was different. I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. As news about Luca spread, so did the gestures of support.  AJ and Megan created Luca Knows Heart, a symbol to raise awareness for the rare Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  Soon after, fans started making banners, shirts, some even got the symbol tattooed.  When Luca was born, the team wore Luca Knows Heart shirts, just a week later, Luca was taken off life support and passed. LA beat Colorado 6-0 the next night, every single player that scored dedicated their celebration to Luca. The swell of support that the DeLaGarzas received for the next few weeks across the league speaks volumes about how much other teams respected AJ as a player and a person. 2014 ended with AJ lifting the MLS Cup for the 3rd time and helping the Galaxy become the First to Five.  In a genuinely heartfelt gesture, the LA Riot Squad named Luca as their Player of the Year thus engraining him in Galaxy history. 

 

I was taken aback when just a few months later, AJ and Megan announced that they were expecting a 2nd child. The strength that it takes to bounce back from such a tragedy is immeasurable. Noelle DeLaGarza was a beautiful and healthy baby girl, born on 8:28AM, Luca was born on 8/28, forever tied to her big brother.

 

What does all this have to do with a player trade? Ultimately, it doesn’t, its about the connections we as fans make with players, especially ones as special as AJ DeLaGarza.  We cheered for him, we mourned with him, we celebrated the birth of Noelle with him, we feel loyalty to him.  When the Galaxy traded AJ for $175,000 of MLS Monopoly money, we felt like it was a betrayal.  Galaxy fans want to stick up for a man whom they feel a strong personal connection to. They are angry.  Perhaps it’s the new direction the Galaxy organization is taking, perhaps fans feel like the team’s been gutted so much already. After all, it seem as though the Galaxy have lost their mastermind in Bruce Arena, the fiery lifeblood that pumped through the team’s veins in Robbie Keane but worst of all, in trading AJ, the LA Galaxy have lost their heart.