Galaxy boss Bruce Arena snapped up six of the 12 players selected in Monday's stage two re-entry draft as he seeks to build his side's roster for 2012.The second stage of the re-entry process unfolded more or less to expectation until it wound to a close.
At that point, Los Angeles general manager and head coach Bruce Arena did what he usually does: he attempted to leverage the structures of a player acquisition mechanism to make his side stronger.
Instead of avoiding the opportunity entirely or standing pat with one or two potential acquisitions like all of his peers preferred to do, Arena continued to pull veteran players out of the available pool in an attempt to add depth to his squad. Los Angeles extended the second stage by two rounds to compile a group of four potential imports and two potential re-signings.
The end product – new faces Andrew Boyens, Jon Conway, Chris Leitch, Pat Noonan and probable returners Frankie Hejduk and Dasan Robinson – fits Arena's preference for seasoned figures to fill out the roster, but it also raises questions about how the Galaxy could accommodate such a large group in its squad next season.
Every player chosen in the second stage of the re-entry process must receive a “genuine” offer within seven days. The word “genuine” isn't defined in the rules, but it usually involves a number that includes pay cut of some sort from the previous year's salary.
In theory, every player selected by the Galaxy could accept the contract offer immediately upon arrival and tie himself to the club on a guaranteed deal for next season. Such an improbable scenario would place the Galaxy's roster under a great deal of stress, but it would not leave Arena without options given the turnover in Carson this winter.
Several confirmed and potential departures have left the Galaxy somewhat undermanned at this point during the offseason. The on-budget roster – a group that numbers between 18 and 20, depending on how a club prefers to construct its group and whether additional allocation money is required to stay within the budget – barely reaches double figures at this point even with the arrival of Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas from Costa Rican side Alajuelense. Arena will also hope that David Beckham (or his Designated Player replacement), Sean Franklin (out-of-contract and probably due for a raise), Juninho (in the hopes of striking a new loan deal with Sao Paulo ahead of his contract expiration date in June) take up three more spots sooner rather than later.
By parceling out his selections carefully, Arena plotted for a scenario in which every player actually arrives and limits the Galaxy's flexibility to make further moves. Boyens, Hejduk, Leitch and Robinson would provide cover for all four defensive positions. Conway would serve as the number two goalkeeper (or the number three, if Brian Perk remains with the club and beats him out) after Donovan Ricketts' departure to Montréal. Noonan could offer cover in several different attacking spots.
(Note: The budget impact of signing six experienced figures to fill out the roster isn't as significant as it might be in other markets. The Galaxy's Southern California location seems to inspire players to take deeper pay cuts than they might in other parts of the country, while Arena's presence provides another persuasive factor for his former charges. It is also worth noting that the Galaxy should receive some extra allocation money for their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League. In short, the battle is more about roster spots, not budgetary concerns.)
In reality, it seems somewhat unlikely that Arena would place his club in a position to ink deals with all six players and reach a new contract agreement with Adam Cristman. One or two players may reject the Galaxy's overtures or Arena could flip the rights to a player or two to another side for an exceedingly modest return.
Rest assured that Arena plotted for those potential outcomes as he attempts to build his side for next season. The three-time MLS Cup winner's decision to embrace the re-entry process and reap the potential benefits of assuming a modest amount of risk should ultimately reinforce his hard-earned reputation as one of the canniest operators in league circles.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.