Galaxy Insider Player Ratings: Bruce Arena and LA’s coaching staff

Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano reviews the season for the LA Galaxy coaching staff

The LA Galaxy season may be over, but LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will spend the next few weeks offering an evaluation of each member of the squad. VIEW CALENDAR

The LA Galaxy Player Ratings will begin with players who appeared in the least number of games this season starting with goalkeeper Brian Rowe and concluding with Sean Franklin who played in all 34 of the club’s regular season games. There will also be an evaluation of head coach and general manager Bruce Arena and his moves at the conclusion of the list.

We will have two to three evaluations per day and focus on what each player did well, what they need to improve on ahead of next season as well as a select thought from the player on their performance and a rating from myself out of four stars.

BRUCE ARENA

MLS REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 16-12-6 for fourth place in the Western Conference

MLS CUP PLAYOFFS RECORD: 4-2-0 for a second straight MLS Cup title.

CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RECORD:  2011/2012: Lost to Toronto FC 4-3 on aggregate in the Quarterfinals. 2012/2013: Winners of Group 5 with 3-0-1 record and 10 points. Will face Herediano in the Quarterfinals.

U.S OPEN CUP: Eliminated by Carolina Railhawks, 2-1 in the Third Round.

RESERVE LEAGUE RECORD AND RESULT: Winners of the MLS Reserve League Western Division with a 6-3-1 record.

WATCH: Arena, Beckham, Keane talk Cup win

HIGHLIGHTS: When people look back at the 2012 season, the MLS Cup trophy and the Galaxy’s ability to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals will be the lasting highlights, but two moments by the Galaxy coaching staff stand out above all the rest. With the club was languishing near the bottom of the Western Conference before the end of the June international break, Arena and his staff sought to speak to each member of their team to outline their expectations and goals for the remainder of the season.  According to players like captain Landon Donovan, these conversations were vital in restoring confidence and focus to the team as they began to push up the standings. The next moment came on Aug. 29 as Arena opted for a reserve-laden lineup in a Champions League match against the Puerto Rico Islanders. Despite the lineup including five players making their CCL debuts and a pair of forwards still years away from the legal drinking age, LA made quick work of the Islanders, cruising to a 4-0 win.  The success of the lineup allowed Arena to hand the responsibility of qualifying for the CCL quarters to the young side, which were steeled by Reserve League coach Curt Onalfo. With LA’s reserves coasting in the CCL, Arena was able to allow his starters to focus solely on postseason qualification.

LOWLIGHTS: The start of the season was unforgiving for the Galaxy as the MLS Cup champions stumbled out of the gate starting with their elimination to Toronto FC in the CCL quarterfinals. Throughout the season, Arena reflected on the rationale for that slide and shouldered much of the blame as he looked to turn the season around. One particular issue that was repeatedly mentioned was his willingness to allow Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez to train abroad during the offseason. Due to the exhaustion suffered by Keane and Donovan at the start of the season as well as the injury to Gonzalez, Arena has reiterated that similar loans or training stints are unlikely in the future.

HIS THOUGHTS: "We just laid it out to the guys and one thing, our local media was convincing me every day that it was impossible to make the playoffs and I showed our guys the math. They told me that you're freaking crazy and it can't be done so I laid out an equation for our guys that with 17 games left, we had to get 27 to 30 points to make the playoffs. We ended up getting 34, which is more than anyone had. We had a focus about it, but the great part was that we started our first game playing Philadelphia at home and we lost. We had actually had 34 points in 16 games, but we made it clear that was the target. We reminded them every day that we had to chip away at it and we managed to do it, but it was a real focus on a part of the whole team and the whole organization. It was a test of character, obviously, a test in leadership. I could write a pretty good book with a five star general now on leadership. I've been through the wars this year. It's really just, we have enough talent to win games, you just have to really, do the best job that you can to maximize performance. We focused on that, did it and got it done." – Arena on Dec. 1 after MLS Cup telling reporters how the team turned around in July.

RATING: FOUR STARS
The start was not easy, but by the end of the year, the LA Galaxy had accomplished their goals for the 2012 season. The club earned back-to-back MLS Cup titles while also qualifying for the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. With 2012 over, Bruce Arena and the rest of his staff face another test ahead of the 2013 season. LA must look to replace Beckham – and potentially Donovan— while playing yet another loaded schedule which will be skewed towards Eastern Conference travel. Add all these factors up while playing as the two-time defending champion going for a third straight MLS Cup and the course will be yet another difficult one in 2013. However, after their success during a rocky 2012, one can expect that LA will again challenge for another MLS Cup title.

Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com