LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review: Juninho
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: 40 (32 in MLS regular season, six in CONCACAF Champions League and two in MLS Cup Playoffs); GS: 39 (32 in MLS regular season, five in CONCACAF Champions League and two in MLS Cup Playoffs) G: 1 (In MLS regular season); A: 4 (All in MLS regular season)
APPEARANCES IN GUINNESS INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP: GP: 3
HIGHLIGHTS: During the 2013 season, Juninho served as the backbone of the LA Galaxy midfield. Over the course of the year, Juninho formed a lasting partnership with fellow Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas in the center of midfield as both players provided a two-way presence for the Galaxy by appearing in a vast majority of the Galaxy’s regular season matches. Selected by his fellow players around the league to the 2013 MLS All-Star Game inactive roster in July, Juninho was at his best this season when breaking up opposition attacks and starting the Galaxy counter. Where Juninho was particularly effective was in his passing ability as he completed 85.7 percent of his 1,748 total passes in the regular season with 1,136 of his passing attempts taking place in the opposition’s end. According to MLSsoccer.com, this mark was the tenth best accuracy percentage in all of MLS. Juninho scored his lone goal of the year on Sept. 21 when he fired a free kick past Michael Gspurning to help LA earn a 1-1 home draw with Seattle Sounders FC. The goal was an emotional one for the Brazilian as he was able to celebrate his soon to be born baby boy, who is expected to be born in February.
CHALLENGES: In 2013, Juninho was unable to generate the type of offensive impact that LA had become accustom to in years past. With Marcelo Sarvas pushing forward more into the attack, Juninho was left to sit in front of the defense and focus on his defensive responsibilities. Due to this change of roles, Juninho’s offensive production plummeted this season as he managed just a single goal after tallying nine times in all competitions a year earlier. Where Juninho struggled the most was on set pieces as he was unable to provide dangerous service or test opposing goalkeepers with freekicks, with his goal against Seattle serving as the lone exception. The midfielder also dealt with a series of injuries throughout the season as he suffered from nagging ankle and adductor issues that prevented him from being completely fit throughout the year.
HIS THOUGHTS: “I could have done better comparing this year with last year. I played most of the games this year which was one of my goals for this season. I dealt with a couple injuries, but it was not an excuse to not produce. For myself, I always want to do better than last year and I’m hoping to be fit and do more. This year, I don’t know what happened, but I felt more comfortable holding with Marcelo going forward. We know each other, sometimes he’s ahead of me, but this happened. We know each other and now we just need to do better next year.”
OVERVIEW: Juninho was a stable presence in the midfield in 2013, but much more is expected of him next season as the Galaxy look to compete for their fifth MLS Cup championship. This season, he was used almost exclusively in a holding midfield role as he ceded his place in the attack to fellow midfielder Marcelo Sarvas. Don’t expect this to be the case in 2014 as Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has stated since the season ended that he’d like to see more balance between the two Brazilians with Juninho taking a greater chunk of the team’s offense responsibilities. Juninho has the talent to do so –his trademark blasts from distance are evidence of that –now he’ll just need to show that he can take the reins once the Galaxy return to action.
POLL: How would you rate Juninho’s 2013 season?
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com