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What the Galaxy Needs this Winter

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This winter, the LA Galaxy has the opportunity to transform into an entirely new team. With many contracts expiring and others entering their club option year, the club can open up 17 spots on their roster for new arrivals. A complete rebuild may feel like what the team needs after a painful 2023, but too much change too fast could be devastating. Let’s examine the team’s current winning pieces and find out what kind of signings we may be hearing about soon.

 


 

The off-season is always a period of transition in the world of football. Transfers are made, coaches are sacked, systems change, and clubs all over the world look to make the right moves to improve. Under ex-president, Chris Klein, the Galaxy has been woefully unequipped to make the most of these windows of opportunity. For years, the LA Galaxy leadership have built their squad around older talent, making themselves vulnerable to the waning health and ability of their star players. Having failed to get past the second round of the playoffs since their last title in 2014, president Chris Klein has been fired. The restructured (but largely unchanged) front office led by Greg Vanney and Tom Braun is now responsible for dictating the Galaxy’s future. 

 

Their current challenge is to complete and improve the roster for the 2024 season. With one U-22 player spot, two Designated Player (DP) spots, and the option to make room for 17 new players, Greg Vanney, Will Kuntz, and the rest of their supporting cast have tons of decisions in terms of how they build this squad. With so much still up in the air, the picture for 2024 is quite blurry. Let’s review the Galaxy’s current squad, how it might best be supplemented, and speculate on some of the many available options to see if we can’t peek into the future at this early stage.

 

67 goals conceded in 34 games indicates that one of the areas that requires the most immediate attention is the defense. While it is true that both starting centerbacks suffered season-ending injuries, their understudies failed to pick up the slack and were exposed in nearly every game they played. Fortunately, Jalen Neal is expected to recover from the sports hernia that ended his season in 2023. Maya Yoshida will likely partner him as the Galaxy’s starting centerback duo in 2024. Together, they provide an excellent combination of experience and energy and seem capable of forming a wall in front of the goalkeeper when both are available. After watching maybe too much Chris Mavinga and Eriq Zavaleta last year, fans should be demanding more reliable options should the starters face injuries again. A player like Kelvin Leerdam, who performed admirably in multiple positions across the backline when called upon, fits the bill. However, the Galaxy must opt into their option year should they wish to retain his services in 2023.

 

Seeing as the Frenchman and Salvadoran will both be returning next year, defensive reinforcements are more likely to come in other areas. With the recent news of the club deciding not to permanently buy right-back Lucas Calegari, the Galaxy might be more concerned with making sure they sign a quality player in this position this winter. A young Mauricio Cuevas is the only natural right-back on the club’s roster, so Greg Vanney and Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Will Kuntz will surely be looking at acquiring a player who can slide into the starting eleven in this role. 

 

In the middle of the park, Vanney’s starting three will likely continue to be Gastón Brugman, Mark Delgado, and designated player Riqui Puig. Together, this trio can be excellent. 2024 will hopefully allow them to start games together much more often than they did in the past year. This of course requires injuries to be more cooperative moving forward but the front office will be naive to assume crisis can’t strike again. 

 

For depth in midfield, the Galaxy will count on Edwin Cerillo, who can perform some of their roles and fill some gaps, but they may need more. Brugman and Delgado generate a lot when they are together but 2023 revealed how when one is missing, Riqui is left with a massive load that has proven unbearable throughout an entire season. While the front office should be intent on making sure their franchise player receives that support this winter, it will most likely come slightly ahead.

 

Up front, the Los Angeles Galaxy will look like a brand-new team in 2023. Last year, the Galaxy slightly overperformed their average of 50 goals per season by managing to score 51. 2024 is at risk of being a much drier year after the departure of designated players Douglas Costa and Javier Hernandez. Chicha’s departure won’t feel like too heavy of a blow following a disappointing end to his stint in LA, but  Costa’s assists and goals will be sorely missed. Tyler Boyd is another forward whose contributions may need replacing. The Australian’s contract has expired and only time will tell if he will continue enjoying the privilege of playing for his boyhood club. 

 

Although not worthy of being seriously considered, Alexis Sanchez will not be continuing with Seria A giants Inter Milan and his agent has voiced his interest in North American giants Club América and the Los Angeles Galaxy. He’ll be 35 at the start of the season, and many may feel that signing a talent of his age represents a failure of the front office to learn from the numerous other times they’ve signed players who are leaving Europe at that age. If the blue-white-and-gold truly are committed to prioritizing a player’s availability and ability to contribute to the team (as evidenced by their decision to not sign Calegari, who despite being talented enough, will miss a chunk of the season recovering from his torn ACL) over anything else, then a different signing may be more appropriate. 

 

Josh Guesman of Corner of the Galaxy feels that the club will be in the market for at least two wingers, a striker, and a right-back. His assertion reflects some of the most glaring holes in the Galaxy’s current roster. This winter window, Greg Vanney and Will Kuntz must address these issues among others if they hope to finally bring Los Angeles’s original soccer club back to winning ways. The LA Galaxy is currently in a liminal stage, halfway between being the team that performed terribly last year and becoming a team that may be able to bring joy back to the Angelinos in 2024. 

 

As the weather gets colder, fans await more news and hope that their outlook for the Galaxy’s future gets brighter. Subscribe to Los Angeles Nation and follow Galaxy Nation and Nuestra Galaxia Fútbolera to stay up to date with everything interesting going on this off-season. Vamos Galaxy!

 


PHOTO: Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

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