Posts Tagged ‘bruce arena’

By Evan Ream

When Vancouver Whitecaps FC acquired Sebastien Le Toux for allocation money this morning, a lot of eyebrows were raised in MLS circles in the United States and Canada. Despite finishing last in goals in 2011 with just 35, the Whitecaps already have two double-digit goal-scorers on their roster in Camilo (12 goals) and Eric Hassli (10). They also spent their last two first-round draft picks on forwards: Omar Salgado (no. 1 overall) and Darren Mattocks (no. 2). Their roster is rounded out with passable reserve forwards Atiba Harris and Long Tan.

I understand that the 4-3-3 is becoming popular in MLS, but will a front line of Camilo, Hassli and Le Toux be enough to make up for a defense that finished third-to-last in goals allowed with 55? Vancouver is starting to remind me of another certain Canadian team when it comes to their team building. Though they are trying to right the ship by signing veteran defenders, their approach doesn’t really make sense when their two marquee signings – Jay DeMerit and Lee Young-Pyo – are both on the wrong side of 30. Vancouver may have a decent team, but they are following in the footsteps of Toronto FC.

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>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern


Last Year: 18-7-5 59 points, 1st in West, 1st overall. Beat Seattle Sounders FC 3-1 on aggregate in the Western Conference Semifinals, Lost to FC Dallas 3-0 in the Western Conference Final. Won the Supporter’s Shield
 
Key Losses: Eddie Lewis, Chris Klein, Dema Kovalenko, Tristan Bowen, Edson Buddle
 
Key Additions: Juan Pablo Angel, Frankie Hejduk, Chad Barrett, Paolo Cardozo
 
Projected Starting XI: The Galaxy look to play in a straight 4-4-2 just like they did last year. Up top, Juan Pablo Angel is a clear lock for one of the two forward spots. Chad Barrett looks to have the upper hand on Adam Christman for the other starting forward spot, though it should be noted that Landon Donovan could see some time up top as well. Donovan will probably be preferred at left midfield where he can see more of the ball and make better use of his speed. On the opposite flank, David Beckham is the clear starter. In the middle Juninho will likely start alongside Chris Birchall. Juninho will likely be slightly more of an attacking player than Birchall, but not necessarily that much higher up on the field. Juninho is a linking player who plays further back than people think while Birchall is just a prototypical destroyer. This year’s Galaxy backline looks to be one of the strongest in the league: perhaps only second to Real Salt Lake. Todd Dunivant should be the starter at left back; Gregg Berhalter should play next to him, though it is unclear how well he will hold up during the entire season. Leonardo should get a good amount of starts in place of Berhalter. Omar Gonzalez is one of the best defenders in the league and he is a clear starter here as well. Sean Franklin, an underrated player in my eyes, will be a lock at right back. Frankie Hejduk should be able to come off the bench late in games to preserve leads or be a solid back-up to Dunivant and Franklin. In goal, Donovan Ricketts will be the starter for the third year in a row.
 

Chad Barrett          Juan Pablo Angel
 
Landon Donovan          Juninho          Chris Birchall         David Beckham
 
Todd Dunivant          Gregg Berhalter          Omar Gonzalez          Sean Franklin
 
Donovan Ricketts

 
Prognosis: This team is pretty old in some areas and Bruce Arena picked up some very old players (Angel and Hejduk) in the offseason. This looks to be a championship or bust type of squad. Though they won’t completely destroy the squad if the team fails to win, you have to think that some guys like Beckham and Hejduk will be on their way out. This team possesses perhaps the best finisher in the league (Angel), the best passer in the league (Donovan) and the best crosser in the league (Beckham). If Angel stays healthy (and Chad Barrett actually decides to play soccer), this team could be one of the best offensive teams in league history. One thing that I have learned to do over the years is never to doubt David Beckham. He has overcome so much, and I think even he knows that his MLS legacy will look a lot better if he wins a title in his last year. For that reason, and the quality of players and coaches the Galaxy have, I can’t see them finishing out of the top two. This team will make a good playoff run and should be considered one of the, if not the favorite for the title.
 
The Intern’s Take: The main question about LA is how far they will go in the playoffs, not if they will earn a spot there. They are filled with talent in most positions and should be challenging the entire season for the Supporters’ Shield and have a very real chance of winning that trophy for the second season in a row. Although getting up there in age, Juan Pablo Angel should be able to adequately replace the forward role left open by Edson Buddle’s move to Germany, and maybe even score more than Buddle did for LA last season. The Galaxy went unbeaten in their first 12 games last year, only losing once the World Cup was underway, when they were without Donovan and Buddle. With this summer’s Gold Cup, the Galaxy will have a similar situation, and there is also the possibility that Omar Gonzalez may be called up onto the US roster. As the reigning regular season champions, the Galaxy will be playing in the 2011/12 CONCACAF Champion’s League. They are a very talented team and it will be interesting to see how much emphasis they put on this tournament. For the sake of MLS, let’s hope they don’t make the same mistakes as last year, in which they did not manage to qualify for the group stage and were embarrassed at home in a 4-1 loss to the Puerto Rico Islanders. I would love to see a full strength Galaxy team take on some of the Mexican teams in this tournament. The Galaxy will have a lot of soccer crammed into the season (MLS, CCL, US Open Cup, as well as players in the Gold Cup) and there must be concerns about how this team will hold up, especially given the age of some of LA’s key players. That being said, they are still a talent packed team that is in the middle of the discussion of possible MLS Cup winners for the 2011 season.