CARSON, Calif. – Now that the 2014 season is over and the LA Galaxy are once again champions of MLS, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will look back on the season with his review on each position.
The LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review will begin with goalkeepers and then move up the field to defenders, midfielders, forwards, and finally, coaches. We’ll also look at A.J. DeLaGarza separately.
APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS FOR THE GALAXY:
- GP: 37 (29 in MLS regular season, four in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in U.S. Open Cup, two in CONCACAF Champions League)
- GS: 36 (28 in MLS regular season, four in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in U.S. Open Cup, two in CONCACAF Champions League)
- G: 0
- A: 4 (two in MLS regular season and two in MLS Cup Playoffs)
A.J. DeLaGarza may not have gotten much acclaim from the media, but no player was more important to the Galaxy’s defensive success in 2014 than the versatile defender.
During the Galaxy’s MLS Cup-winning campaign, DeLaGarza was a Swiss-army knife along the back line as the 27-year-old played in all four defensive positions at some point. In addition to being a versatile option in defense that was capable of filling in where needed, DeLaGarza was the club’s most consistent defender as his positioning was valuable in snuffing out opposition attacks. For his role in leading a Galaxy defense that ended the regular season with a league-low 37 goals allowed while tallying 10 shutouts, DeLaGarza was named the team’s defender of the year for the second straight season. DeLaGarza also carved out a role in the Galaxy’s possession-oriented offense as his deft distribution from the flanks allowed him to tally a career-high four assists in all competitions.
DeLaGarza’s finest moment came when his team needed him the most as he put forth a man of the match performance during LA’s MLS Cup victory over the New England Revolution. Throughout the game, DeLaGarza made timely stops, but none was bigger than his block to thwart a Charlie Davies breakaway in the 23rd minute that prevented the Revs from taking an early lead.
A.J. DeLaGarza enjoyed the finest season of his career on the field, but off the field, his life was riddled with challenges as he dealt with the tragedy of the passing of his infant son Luca.
From the moment that Luca was diagnosed with the heart deflect Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, DeLaGarza and his family received support from the Galaxy and the American soccer community at large through the “Luca Knows Heart” campaign. When newborn Luca passed away peacefully after a week-long battle with the issue on Sept.2, the community continued to show their respect and love as the Galaxy and other clubs across MLS honored DeLaGarza’s late son with pregame moments of silence and other demonstrations of support.
After Luca’s passing, DeLaGarza stepped up his charity work with his donations to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and other charitable ventures –such as the spcaLA —that led to the 27-year-old being named the 2014 MLS Humanitarian of the Year.
Throughout his career with the LA Galaxy, A.J. DeLaGarza has been a fan favorite, but amid his personal struggles with the passing of his son, the 27-year-old defender became a true club hero.
More so than any other player—even Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane—DeLaGarza is respected for his abilities on the pitch and his charitable nature outside of it. As the Galaxy look to defend their MLS Cup title, DeLaGarza’s defensive prowess and his positional versatility will continue to make him a major part of Bruce Arena’s plans for the future.
Perhaps the only thing that eludes DeLaGarza is national recognition for his defensive success. If DeLaGarza puts forth another strong season and leads the Galaxy in a deep postseason run, MLS All-Star and Best XI nominations cannot be far behind.