In the 2009 season the Los Angeles Galaxy monopolized every individual award possible in MLS. Forward Landon Donovan captured the league's Most Valuable Player trophy, defender Omar Gonzales was awarded Major League Soccer’s Rookie of the Year, and head honcho Bruce Arena was knighted 2009 Coach of the Year. But the fairy tale ending of an MLS Championship Cup was not to be.
Although the end of the 2009 season ended in an abyss of broken hearts and shattered dreams, the Galaxy quickly looked forward to the next season. And last year's championship failure has only fueled their hunger for 2010 supremacy.
Last Season: It was an inauspicious start for Los Angeles as they went 1-1-4 in their first six games. Injuries were coming left and right as key players like forward Edson Buddle, 2008 Rookie of the Year defender Sean Franklin and others were sidelined. Amidst the rocky beginnings the team was also plagued with the controversy of the David Beckham and Donovan feud - not to mention the Beckham and fans in the bleachers standoff.
But with the return of the Englishman and a newly found unity, the Galaxy quickly surged all the way to the top of the Western Conference and into the MLS Championship game only to fall short in the penalty shootout versus Real Salt Lake.
Dearly Departed: Midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi was the only notable player to say 'Bon voyage.'
Miglioranzi, who won the MLS Cup in 2008 with the Columbus Crew, toiled for the Galaxy for a year. In 2009 he played in twenty-three games and totaled 1,719 minutes with the Galaxy. But on November 25, the newly-formed Philadelphia Union selected Miglioranzi in the Expansion Draft. Fortunately for L.A., Miglioranzi was a loss, but not a major one, for the team.
New Faces: To say this next acquisition is a “new face” is a bit of a misnomer. He is not a new face in any sense of the word.
Clint Mathis started his MLS career with the Galaxy back in 1998 and in 1999 reached the Cup final only to fall short against D.C. United. In 2000 after a two and a half year stretch with Los Angeles, Mathis was shipped off to the Metrostars (now the New York Red Bull) to allow LA to get the Mexican international Luis “El Matador” Hernandez.
In 2009 Mathis tallied twenty-eight games played, as with two goals and seven assists as he helped lead Real Salt Lake to their first league Cup. Now as a member of the Galaxy there is much he can bring to the team and according to Mathis he is looking to "bring some leadership and experience, something in the attacking end in the midfield or where ever it be needed."
Also, completely new to the team, city, state, and country are the trio from Brazil. On loan from São Paulo FC in Brazil are defenders Alex Cazumba (21 years old) and Leonardo (20 years old), and midfielder Juninho (20 years old). Since these players have one of Brazil’s most successful clubs on their resume, L.A. fans are eager to see what they have to offer the Galaxy.
Season Storylines: The New Year began with some concern as Donovan commented on possibly prolonging his stay at Everton in the Barclay’s Premier League. However, on January 27, 2010 when questioned about the situation, skipper Bruce Arena simply stated, “He’s going to be back here March 15.”
One thing to look for at the beginning of the season is who will be in charge of protecting the net. During the Cup final goalie Donovan Ricketts suffered a broken hand after crashing into RSL’s Robbie Findley in the penalty box; Josh Saunders took over the net-minding position for the rest of the game. During the team's first week of practice in 2010, both Saunders and Ricketts were seen blocking shots from their colleagues. It’ll be interesting to see who Arena assigns the job to, but the experience of Ricketts should win out.
Predicted Placement: In 2009 the Galaxy had a remarkable finish to their regular season only to fall short in the final. With the hunger and thirst for a Cup gnawing in their throats, expect an explosive regular season and a redeeming rise to the top as they make it back to the Championship game as the number one seed.
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