Categorized | MLS, News

Galaxy appear to be even stronger in 2012

Posted on 06 March 2012 by iyeo

Coming off a championship season for the first time in six years, the Los Angeles Galaxy appear to be even better heading into the 2012 season.

The 2011 season was a special one for the Galaxy, as they won its second straight Supporters Shield with an accumulation of 67 points. The Galaxy then defeated the New York Red Bulls in the two-game first round aggregate series, then outlasted Real Salt Lake in a classic Western Conference final before winning its first MLS Cup since 2005 on a cold wet Sunday November evening against the Houston Dynamo 1-0 in front of 30,000 plus at the Home Depot Center. During that span, the Galaxy went undefeated on its home ptich and also reached the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League tournament, which it will resume on Wednesday as they head to Canada to face Toronto FC in the opening leg at Skydome.

But even as the champagne was flowing in the Galaxy clubhouse, question lingered around what the Galaxy would look like in 2012. Standout Brazilian midfielder Juninho had agreed to return to Sao Paulo on a three-year deal, Landon Donovan had returned to Everton on a short-term loan similar to his 2010 stint and striker Robbie Keane followed suit, albeit it to Aston Villa. To make matters even more complicated, 6-5 Center Back Omar Gonzalez tore his ACL during a stint with German Club FC Nuremberg and is feared lost for the season.

The biggest question however was the status of midfielder David Beckham, who enjoyed his best season since his much-hyped arrival in 2007, as he finished second in the league in assists, playing a part in 15 Galaxy goal last season. Even before his magnificent 2011 season, Beckham was gauging interest from several clubs abroad, with French club Paris Saint Germain being the most serious of the contenders for Beckham’s signature.

But while PSG went out of its way to court the English midfielder, the Galaxy kept a low profile, and in the end, they won out, as the Galaxy’s resurgence combined with family desires led Beckham to sign a two-year extension with LA.

Beckham’s decision to stay in LA could prove to be a good one. Thanks in large part to a slew of allocation money acquired during the calendar year, Galaxy General Manager/Head Coach Bruce Arena re-tooled the squad and as a result, the 2012 Galaxy could be even better than last season’s squad. The first major acquisition was actually a re-acquisition, as striker Edson Buddle re-joined the team after a short stint with German club Ingolstadt. Buddle’s last season in a Galaxy shirt was a memorable one, as he scored 17 goals in 2010 and coming in second in the Golden Boot race that season. Buddle is expected to form a formidable partnership up front with Robbie Keane.

That move however was only the beginning, as Juninho was reacquired on another loan from Sao Paulo. Juninho is expected to continue his stellar partnership alongside Beckham in central midfield. Juninho is not the only Brazilian midfielder on the squad, as LA signed Marcelo Sarvas during the offseason, presumably to fill Juninho’s spot in central midfield, now he will most likely be used strictly for depth, although he won’t be able to participate for the Galaxy in any remaining CCL games since he played in the tournament for L.D. Alajuelense during the group stages last year, ironically in the same group as the Galaxy.

Filling Gonzalez’s spot in central defense appears to be the only question mark for Los Angeles. As of right now, 6-4 Andrew Boyens appears to be the man to fill the void. The 28-year old New Zealand international had stints with Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls prior to the upcoming season and will get his first opportunity to prove himself on Wednesday against Toronto.

The Galaxy will be thrown into the fire right from the get go. After its first leg of the CCL matchup against Toronto, LA will open the MLS regular season against Real Salt Lake on Saturday at the Home Depot Center in a rematch of last year’s Western Conference final, then comes the return leg of the CCL series against Toronto at the HDC a week from Wednesday.

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