Posts Tagged ‘los angeles galaxy’

By Evan Ream

I’m genuinely excited for this game, as I am for all MLS Cups, even if something predictable happens. I started watching MLS Cup in 2004 and have never been treated to a bad game. Even the worse games of the seven I have watched live went to overtime. I don’t think this game will be bad, I think it will actually pretty much mirror the best one I have seen: MLS Cup 2008.

The Galaxy will start off strong and get a goal in the first half – Robbie Keane is my pick to get it – and cruise to halftime leading 1-0. After the half, one of the Dynamo’s 394702347230 six footers will equalize setting up a dramatic finish in which Keane will score twice after the 85th minute. Yes, I’m predicting the first hat-trick in MLS Cup history. I think Keane is on really good form and will exploit the Houston backline with smart runs.

Houston still has a chance in this game, but I think that they just don’t have enough quality. They will probably have to score two or three goals on set pieces to win this game, and with Brad Davis out, I just don’t see that happening.

Prediction: L.A. Galaxy 3 Houston Dynamo 1

MVP: Robbie Keane

By Evan Ream

This Sunday, the L.A. Galaxy will take on the Houston Dynamo at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. to decide who will win the 16th MLS Cup. This is my first of two team previews.

Overview

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By Evan Ream

After three games for most teams (though two to four for some), I feel like there is a decent enough sample size to assess each team’s chances of winning MLS Cup as well as the Supporter’s Shield. I have therefore divided up all the teams into these four categories:

Rebuilding– This team will not make the playoffs this year, they are at least one year and one or more key players away from doing so.

Playoff Contender– not to be confused with an MLS Cup Contender, these teams simply have a good shot at making the playoffs and nothing more; likely a first round exit.

MLS Cup Contender– These are the second-tier teams (such as Colorado from last year) who will almost assuredly make the playoffs, but aren’t quite as good as the top teams. In a four game (or five now) tournament, one of these teams could catch fire and unexpectedly win the cup (like the last two years).

Supporter’s Shield Contender– These first-tier teams have the quality and depth to bring it every night. These teams should finish in the top three or four of the league and have a great chance to win the Supporter’s Shield as well as MLS Cup.

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By Evan Ream

 

While watching the MLS games last weekend, I was thinking about each individual team’s all-time leading goal scorers. For some reason (maybe because MLS has only existed for 16 years) people never talk about the player that is the leading goal scorer for each team. Now that each team officially has a leading goal scorer, I would like to look at who are each team’s all-time top marksmen and when that mark will be broken as well as who will break it. I will start with the team who has the lowest goal total for their all-time leading scorer and go up from there.

Portland Timbers: Kenny Cooper* – 1 (* means the player is active)

Player closest on the current roster: Everyone – 0

This total is likely to be broken… in one minute, one game, next season, who knows? Cooper is Portland’s most established scorer (and player for that matter) and will likely end the season as the leading scorer. I can see Cooper staying for four to five seasons and scoring 40-60 goals in keeping this record for a while. If anyone on this roster has the chance to break Cooper’s record, it will be Darlington Nagbe who could be in MLS for a few years. If Cooper, who is injury prone, doesn’t stay healthy for his Timbers career, then Nagbe could overtake him.

 

Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Eric Hassli* – 2

Player closest on the current roster: Atiba Harris and Terry Dunfield – 1

This total is likely to be broken… who knows? This is a similar situation to Portland. Eric Hassli is the only established scorer on this team, the only player that likely has a chance to break this is Omar Salgado, and he can’t even play until September. Even if he is great, he likely won’t last long in the league so it all depends on how many goals Hassli scores.

 

Philadelphia Union: Sebastien Le Toux* – 14

Player closest on the current roster: Danny Mwanga – 7

This total is likely to be broken… in two years if Danny Mwanga stays around for the entirety of his MLS contract. I am one who happens to think that Le Toux had a fluke season last year and will come back down to earth this season. I think Mwanga will score more goals this year before overtaking Le Toux in 2012 before moving to Europe. After that, Le Toux will likely take it back. Carlos Ruiz has an outside chance if he returns to his for in the early part of the last decade.

 

Seattle Sounders FC: Fredy Montero* – 22

Player closest on the current roster: Steve Zakuani – 14

This total is likely to be broken… in the late stages of this season if Fredy Montero plays as he has been in the first two games. In all likelihood though, Zakuani will put up a similar amount of goals as Montero this season and therefore not break it. If Montero is sold this summer, which is a definite possibility, then Zakuani could break it early next season, but Montero should be the owner of this record for as long as he is playing in Seattle.

 

Toronto FC: Dwayne De Rosario* – 27

Player closest on the current roster: Maicon Santos – 5

This record is likely to be broken… never because Toronto is a terrible franchise who trades away players like Jeff Cunningham, Edson Buddle, Conor Casey, and pretty much anyone else who can score goals. You may think this is a joke, but I’m willing to be that in 15 years, Dwayne De Rosario, who only has a few years left in his career, is still Toronto’s all-time leading goal scorer.

 

Real Salt Lake: Robbie Findley – 29

Player closest on the current roster: Fabian Espindola – 16

This record is likely to be broken… near the end of this season or the beginning of 2012, but not by Espindola. Saborio will score between 10-20 goals this season giving him an outside chance to do it, but he needs 17 to tie and 18 to break it. Saborio is an excellent finisher and should have no problem doing it under his current contract.

 

Chivas USA: Ante Razov – 30

Player closest on the current roster: Justin Braun – 16

This record is likely to be broken…by the end of 2012. Braun, a decent but unspectacular goal scorer, will be able to score 15 goals in the next two seasons, especially with the extra games.

 

Colorado Rapids: Conor Casey* – 42

Player closest on the current roster: Omar Cummings – 31

This record is likely to be broken…not for a long time. Cummings is only 11 goals away, but he will likely move to Europe at the end of his current MLS contract. Even if he doesn’t Casey is good enough to not let Cummings score 11 more goals than him as long as they are playing together. However if Cummings plays for the Rapids for three to four more years, I could see it happening, but not in the near future as Casey will likely end his Rapids career in the 70s or 80s.

 

Houston Dynamo: Brian Ching* – 46

Player closest on the current roster: Brad Davis – 17

This record is likely to be broken…once again not for a long time. The Dynamo have no proven scorers right now and Ching is nearly at 50 goals. Though he is slowing down, he should end up with 60-70 goals, which would mean that they would have to sign a top player and keep him for 5+ years to make this happen. This isn’t happening any time soon.

 

New York Red Bulls: Juan Pablo Angel – 58

Player closest on the current roster: Dane Richards – 13

This record is likely to be broken…by Thierry Henry, or some other big name Designated Player. I could be wrong about this, but I think Henry has four seasons left on his contract. Four Years is enough time to score 56 more goals to tie Angel, Henry just has to put his mind to it and stop playing terribly. For those that think Juan Agudelo has a shot at this, it’s not likely, Agudelo is going to get sold before he reaches more than 30 goals; he is too young and too good to not be sold. One player who does have an outside chance is actually Jozy Altidore. If Jozy keeps struggling in Europe for a few more years, I can see him coming back in his late 20’s and demolishing this record.

 

San Jose Earthquakes: Ronald Cerritos – 61

Player closest on the current roster: Chris Wondolowski – 21

This record is likely to be broken…in four years if I was wrong about Wondolowski having a fluke season last year. Wondo should be able to break it in six if he ends up being a decent scorer though. I think Wondo will have this record at some point, but when that point is remains to be seen.

 

Columbus Crew: Brian McBride and Jeff Cunningham* – 62

Player closest on the current roster: Eddie Gaven – 21

This record is likely to be broken…depending on how far Jeff Cunningham improves this record, who knows? Cunningham is probably good for 20 more goals in his career and thus it will take someone probably 7-10 years to break it and the Crew don’t have anyone capable of that on their current roster.

 

Sporting KC: Preki – 71

Player closest on the current roster: Davy Arnaud – 43

This record is likely to be broken…in 2016 if Davy Arnaud scores five goals per season for the next six seasons. It could happen; he’s not likely to go to another team and he definitely isn’t going to Europe. There are two other candidates on the roster though, Kei Kamara who has 11 goals and Omar Bravo who has two. Kamara isn’t good enough to play in Europe and he is still just 26. If he stays with KC for the next eight years he could possibly do it. Bravo is 31, but if he has four to five amazing years in MLS he could have an outside chance of doing it, but it would have to be four to five of the best years anyone has ever had in MLS. Only time will tell, but if anyone is going to break this record in the next decade, it will be one of these three.

 

LA Galaxy: Landon Donovan* – 71

Player closest on the current roster: David Beckham – 9

This record is likely to be broken…sometime in 2030 when LA sign a DP for 10 years and he breaks Donovan’s record of 150 goals. Really, the sky is the limit for Donovan who looks to be capable of playing well into his 30s and should still score plenty of goals for the Galaxy.

 

Chicago Fire: Ante Razov – 76

Player closest on the current roster: Marco Pappa – 12

This record is likely to be broken… not for a very, very long time. No one on the current roster can do it. Chicago would have to have a young player come in and play with the team for five to ten seasons in order for this to happen.

 

FC Dallas: Jason Kreis – 91

Player closest on the current roster: David Ferreira – 16

This record is likely to be broken… in a similar situation that a player will break Chicago’s record. Best-case scenario is that FC Dallas locks up one of their academy players for a long time and he does the job. We have no idea who will break this, but it won’t happen for 10+ years unless Kenny Cooper comes back.

 

New England Revolution: Taylor Twellman – 101

Player closest on the current roster: Shalrie Joseph – 29

This record is likely to be broken… never. The Revolution really caught lightning in a bottle with Twellman. They are known for being one of the cheapest teams in MLS, refusing to spend money on top players. Twellman’s record should stand for at least 30 years. I can’t see the Revolution caring enough to sign a player of Twellman’s caliber for as long as Twellman was here. Twellman was one of a kind and should own this record for most of his life.

 

DC United: Jaime Moreno – 131

Player closest on the current roster: Santino Quaranta – 22

This record is likely to be broken…by Charlie Davies if he has a successful season and DC sign him to a deal and he repays the faith in them by staying there his whole career. Davies could have the record in ten years. Unfortunately for all parties involved, I don’t think this is going to happen as Davies likely still has European aspirations, but one can hope. More likely, Davies scores 10-15 goals this year, heads back to Europe, promising to return to United for his last years, and ends up scoring around 50 goals total once he comes back. At the moment, he is the only chance United have of breaking this record, no one else will do it.

 

Records are made to be broken, and many of them will be this season and in the seasons to come. As the years in MLS pile on, each team will have a more respectable number for their leading scorer and it will become harder and harder as well as more sought after to break these kinds of records. I want to keep this piece up and look at it in 5 years and see if any of these things have actually happened and re-investigate how each team’s situation is then. Hopefully you enjoyed this piece; I will be looking into numbers like this more often from now on.

>By Evan Ream

Wow, what a great opening weekend! MLS First Kick 2011 has made me upset that it is only Monday now and I have to wait until Friday to watch more. This weekend had it all: There were goals, upsets, red cards, dream debuts, flops, and tons of drama. Here are a few thoughts on each of the games that took place this weekend:
LA Galaxy 1 Seattle Sounders FC 0
Despite the score line, this was actually an even game that was won by a single moment of brilliance from Juninho. The bad news is that Seattle had nearly all of their first choice starters while LA was missing Donovan Ricketts, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, and Juan Pablo Angel. The game itself was actually pretty boring; Seattle looked like they didn’t even want to be there. O’Brian White missed a few chances that Blaise Nkufo would have likely put away, but that is why he couldn’t even get minutes for Toronto last year. No one on Seattle looked very good. Steve Zakuani showed flashes, but we got the first glimpse of what may turn into a long season for Seattle.
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4 Toronto FC 2
This may have been the game of the week; good thing the feed was totally working on Match Day Live…OH WAIT! After this game, maybe Vancouver showed us that they did actually know what they were thinking all along, or maybe they were just playing Toronto FC. Toronto looks terrible, they will need to get things together for this week’s game against Portland: to lose to two expansion teams in two weeks would probably end any hope they had of being good at all this season. Vancouver’s Eric Hassli had a great debut; showing that he can be the goal scorer they need. The important player for them however, may end up being Davide Chiumiento, who showed class and skill in the Whitecaps inaugural game. For now, the Whitecaps are near the top of the table and it will be interesting to see if they can stay there.
 
DC United 3 Columbus Crew 1
Everyone will remember this as the Charlie Davies comeback game, but for United fans it was so much more. Even without Davies, United dominated this game with their new acquisitions. They had some unforced errors and slip-ups, but this can be attributed to the new players. Dax McCarty, though he struggled on his set piece delivery, was impressive from the get go and combined well with the other midfielders. The biggest question for United was about the defense, which proved strong. Perry Kitchen looks like a Rookie of the Year candidate and Dejan Jakovic looks like a possible Defender of the Year. The way the United team played as a whole was impressive, stringing together passing sequences that haven’t been seen since the Jaime Moreno-Christian Gomez days. Unexpectedly, Josh Wolff was very impressive up front and was unlucky to not score more than one goal. If there was a downside to the whole day for United, it was that Joseph Ngwenya was absolutely awful, but once Davies gets 90-minute fit, he shouldn’t be starting anyways. United look to have the depth (especially in midfield) to make a strong playoff run this year. On the flip side, Columbus were awful. Though they had a similar number of shots on goal and possession to United, the quality of each was just not the same. Columbus was unimaginative in the final third and did almost nothing attacking wise until Robbie Rogers came on. If Robbie Rogers is your key offensive player, your season is definitely not looking good.
 
New York 1 Seattle 0
This game is all about three things: Thierry Henry’s penalty miss, Juan Agudelo’s first start and goal, and Seattle’s second consecutive mailed in performance. Thierry Henry was pretty bad and is apparently now injured again; that doesn’t bode well for NY. On the bright side, Juan Agudelo scored an amazing first career goal. The 18 year old who had just two regular season and two playoff games combined coming into this game showed that he has the potential to be the real deal. Agudelo should be one of the biggest storylines in MLS this season. For Seattle though, things aren’t looking so good. Has Sigi Schmid lost this team? I know they lost to two of the best teams in the league in one week, but outside of Steve Zakuani there was no spark; no one seemed like they wanted to win. Only time will tell, but for Seattle they are one loss away from being in panic mode.
 
FC Dallas 1 Chicago 1
There isn’t much to report here other than that Dallas (outside of Zach Loyd) didn’t look as good as they did last year. It will be interesting to see if Brek Shea continues to get minutes at center back; I doubt Schellus Hyndman will let just one red card get in the way of this experiment. Chicago was equally as unimpressive, though they did get a point on the road, which is more than anyone expected from them.
 
Philadelphia Union 1 Houston Dynamo 0
This is a very impressive result for the Union, who will look to make the playoffs for the first time this year. The defense looked very solid, as did new keeper Faryd Mondragon. This is the type of game that Philadelphia was incapable of winning last year; a low scoring affair where the team grinded out a victory while not playing the best soccer. Unfortunately for MLS and Union fan, Carlos Ruiz was back to his antics. There is perhaps no player in league history I hate more than Ruiz; he deserved a red for his reckless elbow to Andrew Hainault’s head. Houston should have taken at least a point though; Dominic Oduro once again proved his reputation as a terrible finisher by missing a sitter. This Houston team badly misses Brian Ching.
 
Colorado 3 Portland 1
Not really a surprising result from Colorado here. The Timbers showed that their defense is suspect and Colorado showed that their attack is great. This game went down pretty much as everyone expected it to.
 
Real Salt Lake 1 San Jose Earthquakes 0beckerman_RSL_205
I was at this game and I am proud to report that so far my prediction (link to MLS preview) of Chris Wondolowski coming back down to earth is so far correct. Both teams had pretty much the same amount of good play, but RSL showed that their players (in this case Kyle Beckerman) have more class when it matters. Beckerman hit a screamer of a goal while Wondo was forced to rue his three missed sitters.
 
Sporting KC 3 Chivas USA 2
I thought KC’s attack would struggle in the first part of the season, especially without Teal Bunbury. Apparently, I was wrong as KC put up a 3 spot on the road against a pretty decent defense. It is too early to tell if KC will be one of the best teams in the league or if Chivas will be one of the worst (likely it will be somewhere in the middle ground), but for now, what we can take away is that new Sporting KC designated player Omar Bravo looked like the real deal, scoring two goals. It will be fun to watch what this attack can do once it gets Teal Bunbury back.
 
LA Galaxy 1 New England Revolution 1
The Galaxy should have won this game. Period. I don’t care what the ref called, or how many goals got called back. The Galaxy had the ball pretty much the whole game and limited the Revolution to pretty much two chances the entire game. Landon Donovan looked like he didn’t want to be there as did a lot of the rest of the LA team, but they still dominated the whole game and have absolutely no excuse to not have 6 points from two games. The Galaxy will likely lose next week to Real Salt Lake and they will lament their missed opportunities in this game. If they lose the Supporter’s Shield by only 1 or 2 points, they can look back to this game as to why. For New England, despite getting the result, it looks to be another long year. Shalrie Joseph is the only player worth noting on this team; it is only a matter of time before he becomes frustrated with his inferior teammates and gives up. Very few MLS teams have ridden one player all the way to a playoff berth, but the Revolution will have to do exactly that this year.
 
Golden Boot Watch:
Player                       GP     G     A
Charlie Davies            1        2      0
Omar Bravo               1         2     0
Eric Hassli                 1        2     0
Juninho                      2        2     0
Atiba Harris                1        1     2
 
Unbeaten Teams Remaining:
DC United
Sporting KC
New York Red Bulls
Philadelphia Union
Chicago Fire
New England Revolution
LA Galaxy
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Colorado Rapids
Real Salt Lake
FC Dallas

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern

Before we get started, if you haven’t checked out any of our individual team previews yet, here they are:
 
DC United Team Preview
 
Chivas USA Team Preview
 
Philadelphia Union Team Preview
 
New England Revolution Team Preview
 
Houston Dynamo Team Preview
 
Toronto FC Team Preview
 
Chicago Fire Team Preview
 
Sporting KC Team Preview
 
San Jose Earthquakes Team Preview
 
Colorado Rapids Team Preview
 
Seattle Sounders FC Team Preview
 
Columbus Crew Team Preview
 
FC Dallas Team Preview
 
New York Red Bulls Team Preview
 
Real Salt Lake Team Preview
 
LA Galaxy Team Preview
 
Portland Timbers Team Preview
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Team Preview
 
Now, the Intern and I are going to predict who will win every major award and trophy along with a small explanation for each. We would love to hear what you guys think as well, let us know.
 
Individual Awards
 

Golden Boot:
Evan – Alvaro Saborio is the best goal scorer on the best team. He will benefit from the service provided to him by a stacked midfield especially, Javier Morales. Saborio will be the first player since Landon Donovan in 2008 to score 20 goals.
 
The Intern – I agree with Evan’s pick of Alvaro Saborio and he looks to be in the best situation to win the award. I think Henry could challenge him though if he cans stay healthy for the entire season. Henry has proven himself to be a top class scorer everywhere he has played and should have a strong year for New York. He will be playing with a strong midfield behind him with Dane Richards and Joel Lindpere on the wings and should get plenty of service.
 
MVP:
Evan – I think Landon Donovan will have a monster season and become the second two-time MVP after Preki. Donovan will lead the Galaxy to the Supporter’s Shield once again and have a double-digit goals and assists season. Watch out for Javier Morales in this category as he has as good of a chance as anyone.
 
The Intern – Landon Donovan. I can’t even make much of a case for that many others. Maybe Freddy Montero in Seattle but Donovan is still the favorite.
 
Goalkeeper of the Year:
Evan – Nick Rimando should have finished above Donovan Ricketts in the voting last year (though not above Kevin Hartman), and I think the media will finally give him the love he deserves. He has really been playing at a high level the last two years.
 
The Intern – I really like what Sean Johnson did last year with Chicago and he earned them points the whole season, but the defense in front of him is not strong enough for him to win this award. Since Evan took Rimando, I’ll say Kevin Hartman, who played incredibly in last year’s playoffs. It’s hard for me to see someone besides Hartman or Rimando winning this.
 
Defender of the Year:
Evan – Tim Ream will be the key player on the New York Red Bulls defense this year as well as the sophomore player that improves the most. Word has it that Ream is being called up for the Argentina and Paraguay games, all but insuring his inclusion for the Gold Cup roster; this could count against him.
 
The Intern – Despite the tremendous year Tim Ream had last year, I still think he is a year or two away from winning this award, although everyone seems to be going crazy over him (rightfully so) which helps his chances. Ream’s New York teammate Rafa Marquez could win this one though since he will be another major part of the NY back line but then there’s that Omar Gonzalez guy in LA too. This is the toughest one for me to choose because it’s very subjective but I’m going to pick Marquez for this one.
 
Rookie of the Year:
Evan – Being from Davis, Calif., how could I not pick Jalil Anibaba? Well, because he won’t be better than Perry Kitchen. It took me a while to make this pick, but I think Kitchen will be a first choice starter and lead a resurgent DC United team to the playoffs; making him an easy pick.
 
The Intern – I like Perry Kitchen for this year as well, mainly because of how strong I think DC will be. Darlington Nagbe is also a candidate for this award and he should get plenty of minutes partnered with Kenny Cooper for the Timbers. If he can provide a legitimate goal scoring threat, the attacking duo of Portland will be able to do some damage and possibly get enough attention for Nagbe to win this award.
 
Trophy Picks
US Open Cup:
Evan – Historically there are four teams that really care about this trophy. Four-time winners Chicago are terrible and won’t win it, same for the Columbus Crew. This leaves DC United and Seattle Sounders FC who will win it. Seattle want to become the first MLS team to three-peat and will make this tournament a priority.
 
The Intern – Seattle really seems to care about this trophy and they are one of the best teams in the competition. They should be able to win. That being said, DC will be eager to win a trophy (besides the Carolina Challenge Cup) this year because of all the improvements they made in the offseason and the Open Cup is their best chance to do so.
 
Supporters Shield:
Evan – As previously mentioned, I think that the LA Galaxy will win the Supporter’s Shield based on their depth in their squad and their star players. I still think Real Salt Lake have the best team, but I think they are involved in too many competitions to win this trophy.
 
The Intern – It’s really hard to see LA not winning this, but I think RSL and Seattle will be breathing down their necks the whole season and one of them may be able to slide into first place towards the last few weeks of the season.
 
MLS Cup:
Evan – I think Real Salt Lake will make up for their first round failure last year by taking this trophy for the 2nd time in 3 years. RSL should have won it last year and they know it, they will not make the same mistake two years in a row.
 
The Intern – Given how literally anything can happen in the playoffs, it’s hard to make this prediction just yet so I’m going to go with a possible outcome that I would enjoy seeing. Seattle. I like the team they have and it would be great to see another first time winner.
 
This is how I see the table turning out:
1. LA Galaxy
2. Real Salt Lake
3. New York Red Bulls
4. Seattle Sounders FC
5. FC Dallas
6. Colorado Rapids
7. DC United
8. San Jose Earthquakes
9. Philadelphia Union
10. Sporting KC
11. Houston Dynamo
12. New England Revolution
13. Columbus Crew
14. Portland Timbers
15. Chivas USA
16. Chicago Fire
17. Toronto FC
18. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
 
This is how The Intern sees the table turning out:
1.   LA Galaxy
2.   Seattle Sounders
3.   Real Salt Lake
4.   New York Red Bulls
5.   Colorado Rapids
6.   FC Dallas
7.   DC United
8.   San Jose Earthquakes 
9.   Philadelphia Union
10. Sporting KC
11. New England Revolution
12. Columbus Crew
13. Houston Dynamo
14. Portland Timbers
15. Chivas USA
16. Toronto FC
17. Chicago Fire
18. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
 
And lastly, some bold predictions:

  • Chad Barrett will score more goals than Chris Wondolowski
  • Steve Zakuani will be the first midfielder to score 15 goals in one season
  • Arturo Alvarez will score 10 goals in all competitions

 
The Intern’s:

  • We will see at least 10 Stanky Legs this year.
  • Contrary to Univision announcer Pablo Ramirez, opposing defenses will not like that Boon-boo-ree, especially if it’s part of a four-three-three.
  • Hopeful thinking: Kasey Keller wins a championship to end a remarkable professional career.

Predictions for tonight’s opening match:
Evan Ream: LA
Will Robinson: Draw
The Intern: Draw
Nick Gallaudet: LA

>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.