LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review: Bruce Arena
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.
Bruce Arena and LA Galaxy coaching staff
RECORD IN MLS REGULAR SEASON: 15-11-8. Third place in Western Conference and fifth place in MLS.
RECORD IN MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: 1-1-0. Eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals by Real Salt Lake, 2-1 on aggregate in extra time.
RECORD IN 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League: 1-2-1. Eliminated in the semifinals by C.F. Monterrey, 3-1 on aggregate.
RECORD IN 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League: 3-1-0. Qualified for quarterfinals as the No. 6 seed where they will face Club Tijuana.
RECORD IN U.S. OPEN CUP: 0-1-0. Eliminated in the Third Round by the Carolina RailHawks
RECORD IN GUINNESS INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP: 1-2-0. Fourth Place in the tournament
RECORD IN MLS RESERVE LEAGUE: 5-1-4. First place in West Division.
HIGHLIGHTS: The LA Galaxy underwent major changes following the 2012 season with the departures of players like David Beckham, Edson Buddle, Josh Saunders and Christian Wilhelmsson. But rather than bring in costly replacements, head coach Bruce Arena opted to trust in his young talent. During the 2013 campaign, Galaxy Homegrown Players Gyasi Zardes, Jose Villarreal and Jack McBean as well as rookies Kofi Opare and Greg Cochrane were able to contribute at key points of the season.
Zardes proved to be the most effective of the young crop of talent as the rookie forward tallied four goals and four assists while making 27 league appearances. Arena also allowed a new partnership to blossom in central midfield as Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho formed a highly effective pair in the middle of the field for LA. The Galaxy head coach and general manager also ended LA’s goalkeeping struggles with the August acquisition of goalkeeper Jaime Penedo who started 11 of LA’s final 13 league matches. Although league success eluded the Galaxy, they did advance to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League for a third consecutive tournament with a 3-1-0 record in Group 8 play. Arena’s squad was led predominately by a youth-laden squad as Arena opted to not use a first team lineup in the final three matches of the group stage, just as he had a year earlier. The Galaxy also won the MLS Reserve League’s West Division for a second straight season with the team led by assistant coach Curt Onalfo finishing 5-1-4.
CHALLENGES: Inconsistent defensive play was a major concern for Arena and his staff throughout the 2013 season. Over the course of the year, the Galaxy developed a knack for conceding goals from set pieces as they allowed opponents to score 14 times from dead ball chances over the course of MLS play while also allowing 13 goals during the final 15 minutes of matches. These situational problems weren’t the only issue for Arena as a pair of roster decisions were major points of contention during LA’s 2013 campaign. At the start of the season, much was made of the inconsistent form of goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who was signed in December 2012 to replace Josh Saunders. Expected to provide a veteran presence in net, Cudicini’s inability to move off his line in a timely fashion and make important saves served as the Galaxy’ Achilles heel during a frustrating start to the year. This issue was ultimately corrected in August when LA signed Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo who earned the starting job from Cudicini a few weeks later and never relinquished it. However, no move will be more scrutinized than the Galaxy’s trade of Mike Magee for Robbie Rogers on May 25. Brought in to give the Galaxy the dangerous wide play that has eluded them at times during the last several years, Rogers was stricken by various injuries and inconsistent form that prevented him from having a lasting impact in 2013. Meanwhile, Magee blossomed into one of the league’s brightest stars as he tallied 15 goals following his trade to Chicago –giving him 21 on the year—en route to winning the 2013 MLS Most Valuable Player award.
HIS THOUGHTS: “I’ve been in this business a long time and I’ve won my fair share of [trophies], but I think that when you come up short, you have to conduct yourself the right way and learn from it. I’m hopeful that we do. You can’t win every year and that’s the way it is. You look at the great clubs around the world; they don’t win every year either. If some of them fall short and learn to live with it then we can.”
OVERVIEW: With the LA Galaxy’s quest for three straight MLS Cups long extinguished, Bruce Arena and the rest of his coaching staff must now set about retooling the club for a run at a title in 2014. To do so, Arena has already targeted several areas of need for LA such as additional wide players, a target forward and greater midfield depth to complement the production of Brazilians Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas. Arena has already addressed the latter as he signed former Chicago Fire midfielder Baggio Hušidić just days after LA’s postseason exit. Arena must also make decisions on a number of players such as Sean Franklin, Marcelo Sarvas and Michael Stephens who are all in option years. No matter who makes up LA’s roster in 2014, he’ll need greater production from many of 2013’s regular contributors like Gyasi Zardes and Hector Jimenez. But no player will receive more scrutiny than Robbie Rogers who must take hold of a role in the Galaxy’s offense after inconsistent form and injuries marred his first season with the Galaxy.
POLL: How would you rate Bruce Arena and his coaching staff’s 2013 season?
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com