CARSON, Calif. – The season may be complete, but LA Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena is already at work to retool LA ahead of the 2014 season.
Four days after the team’s bid for a third consecutive MLS Cup championship ended with a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinal Series, Arena stated that the club had signed midfielder Baggio Hušidić while also re-signing veteran defender Todd Dunivant.
Hušidić, whose MLS rights were acquired from the Colorado Rapids in June as part of the deal that brought Pablo Mastroeni to the Galaxy, played for three seasons with his hometown Chicago Fire before making the move to join Swedish side Hammarby ahead of the start of the 2012 MLS season. With those pieces in place and the club still considering the contract options of numerous others, Arena is already thinking about the type of personnel changes that LA need to be competitive next season.
“We’ll try to make our team better. We’ll see if we can acquire some players to make our first XI or our roster stronger like I think that any team in the league will attempt to do,” Arena told reporters on Monday. “Then [we’ll] make our plans for preseason and the opening games in MLS and Champions League.
“We can use another forward— probably more of a target forward to compliment the players that we have there,” Arena added. “We can use an experienced flank player, we can get better with our passing in the central midfield position and we can get a little bit better in the back as well. Although we have a good group there, we’d still like to get a little bit better if we can.”
Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, who was held scoreless during LA’s Western Conference Semifinal Series defeat to RSL after tallying 10 goals and nine assists during the regular season, admitted that he expected the coaching staff to make changes during the offseason.
“I’m sure the coaches will do their due diligence and figure out where we fell short this year and figure out what sort of pieces that we need to add,” Donovan said. “You’re always trying to add pieces because you want to make your roster better, fortunately, I don’t get paid to make those decisions.”
Due to the team’s early exit, the Galaxy will need to make use of their first lengthy offseason since 2006, which was the last time that the club did not reach the MLS Cup Playoffs or travel abroad on a postseason tour. With the frenzied schedule finally coming to a halt, Donovan insists that the Galaxy make use of the time to recharge.
“For five years, we’ve played late into [November and December] with offseason trips and it does catch up to you after a while,” said Donovan, who described the break as a ‘little bit of a blessing’ due to his nagging left ankle injury. “The silver lining is that it does give some guys some rest and the younger guys who need the opportunity to play and train more can do a little bit more. But it’ll be a welcome break for some of us.”
Although the roster will be tinkered with during the lengthy offseason, Arena believes that his group must first put their defeat to RSL behind them and come back hungry in 2014.
“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,” said Arena. “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.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com