On Monday, the LA Galaxy will hit the field for the first time in 2011. The team will begin its defense of its Supporters’ Shield title having made several changes, which include the addition of a handful of players.
The 2011 LA Galaxy will look a little different than the 2010 version. However, the team will begin taking shape on Monday as some of the club’s key questions will start to get answers.
Who starts alongside Juan Pablo Angel?
Ángel will try and replace Edson Buddle and his 17 goals, but he won’t be alone up top. Mike Magee is the lone incumbent and could have a slight edge heading into camp because of his prior history with Ángel. Magee scored five goals for the Red Bulls in 2008 — the same year that Ángel had 14 to lead New York into the MLS Cup final. Chad Barrett and Adam Cristman are also in the mix alongside newcomer Miguel López. Team captain Landon Donovan could be an option up top as well. It's up to Arena to sort out the pecking order.
Which first-year player will have most immediate impact?
Paolo Cardozo and López each are attacking options who could earn some playing time soon. While Arena has insisted that the incoming youngsters likely won’t have much impact, Omar Gonzalez and Michael Stephens earned immediate playing time as rookies in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Second-rounder Hector Jimenez likely needs some seasoning before stepping into any sort of meaningful role, but Arena is high on supplemental draft choice Daniel Keat. The New Zealander could fill Dema Kovalenko’s role in the defensive midfield and add immediate depth to that position.
A.J. DeLaGarza or Gregg Berhalter?
Berthalter was a rock for most of the first two-thirds of the 2010 MLS season, but injuries limited his time down the stretch. DeLaGarza settled into that spot toward the end of the season and into the playoffs. Now that the two are healthy, an interesting battle should emerge. Does Arena go with the aging but proven veteran or the undersized but talented youngster? Leonardo is around, too — but it’s likely either DeLaGarza or Berhalter will start alongside Omar Gonzalez.
Where does Frankie Hejduk fit in?
Hejduk has quite a bit of experience and is one of three Galaxy players who are 1998 World Cup veterans. But is Hejduk a starting right back? With Sean Franklin around, it’s likely Hejduk won’t be the starter come First Kick. However, that does not mean the longtime Columbus Crew man won’t see playing time. If he is the Hejduk of old, he could free Franklin up to play in the midfield or even at central defense if need be. Just how much Hejduk has in the tank will be seen soon enough, and that could determine where Franklin and fellow outside back Bryan Jordan spend their time.