So far this season, the LA Galaxy have been absolutely dominant. Despite only playing 10 games, they lead the league with 24 goals, the bulk of which coming from centerpieces Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes and Steven Gerrard. They also have at least 2 games in hand over the top 3 teams in the Western conference, and are just 5 points behind leaders Colorado.
Unfortunately, it seems their run of form could be in danger thanks to two upcoming international tournaments, the Copa America Centenario and the European Championship. Though the rosters have not been finalized, it is extremely likely head coach Bruce Arena will be without forwards Dos Santos, Zardes and Keane for a month or longer.
Dos Santos and Zardes will likely be competing against each other in the Copa America which begins June 3rd and ends the 26th, though camp for both begins next week. Robbie Keane, an Irish international, will be representing his country in the Euros which begins June 10th and ends July 10th.
With up to 3 key attacking players missing, including DPs Keane and Dos Santos, Arena could be forced to give reserve players significant minutes. Youngsters Bradford Jameison and Jose Villareal, who only have a handful of substitute appearances between them this season, will look to move up the pecking order in the coming weeks. Additionally, Arena can always turn to vets Alan Gordon and former MVP Mike Magee for a bit more stability and experience.
Recently, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin likened the LA club to the New England Patriots before their 2-2 draw last Thursday, saying “They’re the gold standard of the league in recent years for sure — the Patriots of MLS — and they have a way of winning.” Additionally, in reference to Bruce Arena, he said “He’s the best coach that the US has…he has a way of motivating underrated or under-appreciated players, so he pushes the right buttons.”
It’s going to take Arena’s best efforts to keep his squad rolling through June, though he should be helped by the return of midfielder Nigel de Jong from injury. Other players like Magee, Sebastian Lletget and Emmanuel Boateng will have to embrace the mantra of ‘do your job’, so to speak, and find a way to rise to the occasion.
These “Patriots of MLS” will have a chance to truly prove their similarity to the New England team, hopefully making a sum greater that is greater than its (temporary) parts.
As for Arena, when asked about this comparison, responded in classic Belichik fashion, simply stating “We’ve been called worse.”
It seems like as long as Arena is around, it seems like this club will be just fine.