In 2012, Michael Stephens had two very defined -- and very different -- roles with the LA Galaxy. (Read my evaluation of the player here)
During MLS play, he was predominantly used as a late substitute who would provide energy and help the Galaxy close out games while during LA's CONCACAF Champions League campaign, Stephens was the experienced veteran providing leadership on and off the field for the club's youngsters. But with a series of departures and a number of question marks in the midfield, Stephens' fourth season in MLS may be when he finally solidifies a role in the starting XI.
With David Beckham having left the club and the status of Juninho still up in the air, Stephens is one of the prime in-house candidates to slide into the vacant spots in the Galaxy midfield. During the 2012 calendar year, Stephens made a total of 33 appearances in all competitions while racking up two goals and two assists.
“With the retirements and [departures], there’s going to be some opportunity next year," Stephens recently told the LA Galaxy Insider. "There will be some positions up for grabs maybe more than there were last year. For me, personally, that’s something that I’m looking forward to.”
Stephens intends to spend the offseason in his native Chicago, but once he returns to Southern California for the preseason, he's eager to grab a spot in the Galaxy's starting XI.
"When guys leave and especially guys that were in starting positions – obviously, the coaches have their own plan for those positions— but when you lose starters, those positions are up in the air," said Stephens. "It’s something to fight for and I’ll be ready for that next year.”
Rate Stephens' season below.