LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review: Leonardo

Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano looks back on the 2013 season for defender Leonardo

Now that the 2013 season is over, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will look back on the season for every player who was on the club’s roster at some point during the season.

VIEW SCHEDULE HERE

The LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review will begin with players who made the least number of appearances for the club in all official competitions over the course of the year, starting with Brian Perk and Bryan Gaul, who did not make any appearances for the first team this year, and concluding with midfielder Marcelo Sarvas who played in a team-best 42 games for LA this year. 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 one or two evaluations per day and focus on what each player did well and what challenges they faced in 2013 as well as a select thought from the player on their performance and an overall assessment of their season from myself.

Leonardo

AGE: 25

POSITION: Center back

APPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS FOR THE GALAXY: GP: 20 (14 in MLS Regular Season, five in CONCACAF Champions League and one in U.S. Open Cup); GS: 17 (13 in MLS regular season four in CONCACAF Champions League and one in U.S. Open Cup); G: 0; A: 0

APPERANCES IN GUINNESS INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP:  GP: 3

RESERVE LEAGUE APPEARANCES: GP: 6; GS: 6

HIGHLIGHTS: Leonardo began the season as a starter in central defense earning a place in the lineup for four of LA’s first five league matches as well as the club’s final three matches in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League. However, Leonardo’s luck went south on April 13 when he was sent off during LA’s 1-0 loss to FC Dallas and did not return to the starting lineup until May 29 when he went 78 minutes in the club’s U.S. Open Cup defeat to the Carolina RailHawks. An ankle injury suffered in that match forced Leonardo out of the squad until the Guinness International Champions Cup in August where he made three straight starts. Once the Galaxy returned to league play, Leonardo was back in the starting XI, a position that he held for seven straight MLS matches until suffering an adductor injury in LA’s 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC on Sept. 21. Leonardo recovered from the injury to make his final MLS appearance in the Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact.

CHALLENGES: The Brazilian center back racked up 20 appearances in 2013, the highest number of appearances that he’s earned throughout his four-year stint with the club, but remained plagued by injuries at key moments. Although none of Leonardo’s issues were as severe as the knee injuries that cost him the last two seasons, he missed 10 league matches during the summer due to a nagging ankle injury. After recovering and locking down a spot in the starting XI in August, the Brazilian was stricken with an adductor injury that caused him to fall behind rookie center back Kofi Opare in the Galaxy’s depth chart in September. Even though Leonardo was able to recover after just two matches, Opare’s solid performances left Leonardo on the outside looking in during the club’s stretch run and their brief postseason campaign.

HIS THOUGHTS: “For me, this season was a better year for me because I wasn’t injured for a long time. I was able to play more this season and I know that I can help the Galaxy more. I showed when I had my chance that I can play. For me, I think that I can do more and play more. When I feel good, I know that I can play much better, so this offseason, I just need to stay healthy and keep working to improve.”

OVERVIEW:  Following a pair of injury ravaged seasons, Leonardo showed signs of promise in 2013 that has him entering next season as a contender for the starting center back position alongside Omar Gonzalez.  However, he’ll need a strong preseason to beat out the emerging Kofi Opare who was able to leap frog him after a brief injury spell in September. Both defenders have the type of physical skills that make them natural foils to Gonzalez, but Leonardo’s experience could give him a leg up once training camp opens. However to earn a starting spot, he’ll need to stay healthy over the course of a full season. If he can do just that, expect to see him earn significant minutes in the Galaxy back four.

POLL: How would you rate Leonardo’s 2013 season with the Galaxy?

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