With European football leagues at the onset of their season and a break for international competition arriving in two weeks, it’s time to look at a team in Major League Soccer who up until now have flown under the radar in 2015.
They have methodically been adding the pieces needed to dominate the rest of the season and win the Supporters’ Shield as well as the MLS Cup. The Galaxy’s 5-1 victory on Sunday against New York City FC was a complete domination from the opening whistle. Let’s take a closer look at the current squad to get a sense as to why they will continue to dominate.
Manager- Bruce Arena needs no introduction, having found success in the beginning years of MLS with D.C. United, then managing the U.S. Men’s National Team for eight years. He returned to MLS in 2006 with the Red Bulls before landing in Los Angeles in 2008. This is a leader who knows how to get the most out of his players, and one whom the players respect.
Goalkeeper- Donovan Ricketts started the season for expansion side Orlando SC as a back-up, but since arriving in Los Angeles has proved to be a valuable asset between the pipes. At 38 years old, he still has the reflexes he possessed as a Jamaican international keeper. Ricketts’ experience and leadership is a big reason why he immediately joined the starting eleven.
Defense- The starting back four of Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, Leonardo and Rogers work well as a unit, with Gonzalez and DeLaGarza teamed together since their collegiate days at the University of Maryland. In their last four games, this tandem have yet to cede more than one goal.
Midfield- A combination of youth and veterans makes this arguably the most talented midfield in MLS. Newly acquired Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is teamed with the veteran Juninho and two 22 year-old phenoms formerly from youth academies, Gyasi Zardes from the Galaxy and Sebastian Lletget from West Ham United in England. All four are instrumental not only as playmakers but also as goal scorers themselves.
Forwards- With the recent acquisition of Mexican international Giovani Dos Santos, who was languishing with limited playing time with Villarreal in La Liga, the Galaxy play up front has been rejuvenated. Former Irish international striker Robbie Keane seems a decade younger than his 35 years of age while teamed next to the 26 year-old Dos Santos. With veterans Alan Gordon and Edson Buddle able to provide scoring prowess as substitutes, it’s no wonder this team has scored three or more goals in five of the past seven games.
Noteworthy– While the players listed above have been classified according to their roster spots, their versatility deserves accolades as well. Virtually all of the midfielders on this squad have played as strikers, and can move into that slot with relative ease. Conversely, forwards such as Dos Santos have spent a considerable amount of their careers as midfielders and can fill in capably if needed. This is a luxury few MLS teams possess, and will prove more valuable as the season progresses. This is currently a healthy Galaxy team, giving considerable flexibility to Arena as to whom he plays and which players he can rest as the season progresses.
As the MLS moves towards the playoffs in late October, the L.A. Galaxy are only getting stronger and should be seen as solid contenders to win both the Supporters’ Shield as well as the MLS Cup in 2015.