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. For the defenders, we look at nine players as a group and then A.J. DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez separately.
DEFENDERS:
KYLE VENTER

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: 


  • GP: 0
  • GS: 0
  • G: 0
  • A: 0


OSCAR SORTO

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: 


  • GP: 1 (in MLS competition)
  • GS: 0
  • G: 0
  • A: 0


JAMES RILEY

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: 


  • GP: 6 (Four in MLS and two in CONCACAF Champions League)
  • GS: 5 (three in MLS competition and two in CCL)
  • G: 0
  • A: 0


KOFI OPARE

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: 


  • GP: 7 (Six in MLS competition and one in U.S. Open Cup)
  • GS: 6 (five in MLS regular season and one in U.S. Open Cup)
  • G: 0
  • A: 0


TODD DUNIVANT

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: 


  • GP: 8 (Seven in MLS and one in CONCACAF Champions League)
  • GS: 5 (all in MLS competition)
  • G: 0
  • A: 0


TOMMY MEYER

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: 


  • GP: 15 (12 in MLS regular season, two in MLS Cup Playoffs, one in U.S. Open Cup)
  • GS: 12 (10 in MLS regular season, one in MLS Cup Playoffs, one in U.S. Open Cup)
  • G: 0
  • A: 0


ROBBIE ROGERS

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: 


  • GP: 26 (19 in MLS regular season, five in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in U.S. Open Cup)
  • GS: 22 (15 in MLS regular season, five in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in U.S. Open Cup)
  • G: 0
  • A: 4 (two in MLS regular season, one in MLS Cup Playoffs and one in U.S. Open Cup)


LEONARDO

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: 


  • GP: 30 (24 in MLS regular season, three in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in CONCACAF Champions League, one in U.S. Open Cup)
  • GS: 26 (20 in MLS regular season, three in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in CONCACAF Champions League, one in U.S. Open Cup)
  • G: 1 (in MLS regular season)
  • A: 0


DAN GARGAN

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS:


  • GP: 35 (29 in MLS regular season, five in MLS Cup Playoffs, one in U.S. Open Cup)
  • GS: 30 (27 in MLS regular season, two in MLS Cup Playoffs, one in U.S. Open Cup)
  • G: 0
  • A: 5 (all in MLS regular season)


OMAR GONZALEZ

APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS:


  • GP:  29 (22 in MLS regular season, five in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in CONCACAF Champions League)
  • GS: 29 (22 in MLS regular season, fiive in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in CONCACAF Champions League);
  • G: 4 (all in MLS regular season)
  • A: 5 (three MLS regular season, one in MLS Cup Playoffs, one in CONCACAF Champions League)


A.J. DELAGARZA

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)


HIGHLIGHTS:

A stout defense has long been the foundation from which Bruce Arena’s LA Galaxy teams have been built and during their 2014 MLS Cup-winning campaign, it was no different.  On the heels of their disappointing 2013 season, the LA defense conceded just 37 goals, which tied them with D.C. United for the lowest mark in MLS.


Whereas in past seasons, Arena relied on a set core of defensive players, in 2014, he was able to get production out of a vast cast of characters including veterans like James Riley and Dan Gargan filled in ably. In particular, Gargan—who was the last player signed in preseason—proved to be one of the unsung heroes of 2014 as he notched career-bests in appearances, starts, and assists while playing both outside back positions. Third-year defender Tommy Meyer also made strides forward and moved up the center back depth chart, allowing Arena to deal Kofi Opare to D.C. United in July.


But no one made more improvement from 2013, however, than left back Robbie Rogers. Following a frustrating first season with the club as a wide midfielder, Rogers made the switch to outside back in April with a brief stint with USL PRO affiliate LA Galaxy II. The 26-year-old quickly learned the position and soon blossomed into one of the top left backs in MLS, becoming a key cog in LA’s championship-winning side. Also making strides forward was oft-criticized Brazilian center back Leonardo who showed in long stretches that he has the ability to become the type of physical presence that can be a true complement to Omar Gonzalez at center back.


Second-year defender Oscar Sorto showed improvement as he made his first MLS regular season appearance and became a staple in Curt Onalfo’s LA Galaxy II lineup.


LOWLIGHTS:

Injuries were a major story during the 2014 season for the Galaxy’s back four as mainstay left back Todd Dunivant made just eight appearances in 2014 after missing long stretches of the season with abdominal and groin tears. Dunivant wasn’t the only player who saw his year decimated by injuries as fellow veteran James Riley lost much of his season due to a meniscus tear suffered in March. Rookie central defender Kyle Venter suffered a severe shoulder injury that ended his season after a brief appearance in LA’s July Chevrolet FC Cup match with Manchester United.


As successful as the Galaxy’s defense was down the stretch, the team was still prone to the types of defensive lapses that plagued them during their 2013 campaign. Although these concentration and position issues were few and far between, they were pivotal reasons that the club fell short in their pursuit of the Supporters’ Shield, U.S. Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League title.


During their second leg defeat to Club Tijuana, early defensive errors created a hole that the Galaxy could not recover from as they were dispatched by the Liga MX side in the quarterfinal stage. Eight months after their defeat in Baja California, the defensive breakdowns occurred at the end of the final two regular season matches as LA dropped points allowing Seattle Sounders FC to win the Supporters’ Shield.


OVERVIEW: 

After leading the Galaxy to a fifth MLS Cup, players like A.J. DeLaGarza, Robbie Rogers, Leonardo, Dan Gargan and Tommy Meyer are likely to play key roles in the team’s 2015 campaign.


Heading into 2015, DeLaGarza, Leonardo and Meyer will be expected to compete for the spot in central defense alongside Omar Gonzalez while Gargan will continue to be an option on the outside. Meanwhile, another strong campaign for Rogers will help the left back as he looks to carve out a place in the U.S. National Team pool.


The 2015 season could be an important one for Sorto as the 20-year-old right back looks to continue his professional development. With Sorto expected to earn minutes in U.S. Open Cup, CONCACAF Champions League while also continuing to be a staple with Los Dos, he may finally prove himself ready to challenge for a starting role with the first team.


However as the Galaxy look to defend their title, Arena will likely look to bolster his defensive depth by adding new faces to the backline. This could lead to decreased roles for players like Dunivant who is already 33 and coming off an injury-riddled season. Two changes have already been made as Riley and Venter were released from the club. Riley is expected to retire after a 10 year professional career.  


Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com.