LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review: Michael Stephens
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.
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.
APPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS FOR THE GALAXY: GP: 29 (21 in MLS Regular Season, seven in CONCACAF Champions League and one in U.S. Open Cup); GS: 14 (Eight in MLS regular season, five in CONCACAF Champions League and one in U.S. Open Cup); G: 1 (One in MLS regular season); A: 1 (One in MLS regular season)
APPERANCES IN GUINNESS INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP: GP: 3
RESERVE LEAGUE APPEARANCES: GP: 7; GS: 7; G: 1; A: 0
HIGHLIGHTS: Michael Stephens didn’t have a make a profound impact on the score sheet, but the fourth-year midfielder was a frequent contributor for head coach Bruce Arena’s squad with 21 appearances and eight starts in the league in 2013. Typically an energetic player who is adept breaking up challenges, Stephens refined his passing in 2013, which was most evident in his performance during the Galaxy’s 4-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in May. In that win, Stephens was his usual energetic self, but also emerged as a contributor in the attack with his crisp passing. Stephens got on the scoreboard himself in September when he tallied his second career MLS goal during the Galaxy’s 2-2 draw with D.C. United. The midfielder was also a regular during the CONCACAF Champions League where he made seven appearances, including five starts.
CHALLENGES: Stephens may have been a frequent contributor for the Galaxy in 2013, but his 21 regular season appearances were the lowest amount of the 24-year-old’s professional career. In 2013, Stephens saw himself pushed by the emergence Rafael Garcia who was able to push the midfielder out of the game day roster on numerous occasions. On the field, Stephens was unable to make an impact offensively on a consistent basis as he was frequently able to get behind opposing defenses, but could not provide the service to spark attacks. Defense has long been one of Stephens’ strong points, but he struggled mightily during LA’s CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal first leg against C.F. Monterrey as he was beaten by Cesar Delgado in a play that led to Monterrey’s tying goal late in a match that saw Los Rayados defeat the Galaxy 2-1.
HIS THOUGHTS: “It wasn’t what I wanted personally as far as impact and playing time, but those things go hand in hand. It wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be. There’s a lot of things that I want to improve upon for me personally is to be able to go in and win more balls and offensively, have a little more range to my game and open up it up a little bit.”
OVERVIEW: The 2013 season may not have gone as Michael Stephens planned, but he has the foundation and tools to become an effective midfielder in MLS. However for him to progress professionally, he’ll need to earn the type of consistent playing time that he did not receive last season. Whether or not he’ll do that with the Galaxy remains to be seen as LA have a number of midfielders all vying for playing opportunities in the center of the park. No matter where Stephens will be playing in 2014, his experience and energetic play should make him a contender for playing time.
POLL: How would you rate Michael Stephens’ 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