Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Not too long ago, the Los Angeles Galaxy
looked dead and buried.
On the back of a magical 2011 season that included an MLS Supporters' Shield
and an MLS Cup title, the Galaxy were dealt a major blow in January when Omar
Gonzalez tore his ACL in his first offseason training session with German club
His absence from the center of the Los Angeles defense was extremely
noticeable at the beginning of the season - the Galaxy began their title
defense with a 3-8-2 record, failing to keep a clean sheet in league play
until June 17.
The club's poor start, paired with some exceptional play from other teams
around the league, had virtually every pundit writing off the Galaxy's chances
of a second successive MLS Cup title.
But the comeback was completed on Saturday as Los Angeles clinched a fourth
MLS Cup with a 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo at The Home Depot Center.
It was a Hollywood ending for David Beckham's Los Angeles Galaxy career after
the English midfielder announced that Saturday's title clash would be his last
match with the Galaxy.
Beckham has been a perfect fit for the city of Los Angeles, soaking up the
limelight like the plethora of movie stars who light up the big screen and
grace the covers of international tabloids, and the Galaxy's 2012 season has
read much like a screenplay. There has been turmoil, uncertainty, drama, and
ultimately, a happy ending.
But how did Major League Soccer's super club go from fighting for a playoff
spot to hoisting the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy?
The word that best-characterizes this year's edition of the L.A. Galaxy is
The cornerstones of the team are Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, all
of who were Designated Players this season. Beckham and Keane brought a wealth
of international experience through their years of European football, and
Donovan is without question the greatest American player to ever play the
Los Angeles has peppered quality players of all ages into the roster, but they
brought some level of experience to the table.
Gonzalez, despite turning 24 in October, has raked in the accolades during his
four-year professional career, landing Rookie of the Year honors in 2009 and
Defender of the Year honors in 2011 while being named to the MLS Best XI in
2010 and 2011. After nodding home the equalizer in the 61st minute of
Saturday's tilt with Houston, he has an MLS Cup MVP to add to his collection.
Rejoining the Galaxy during the offseason was Edson Buddle, who first broke
into the league in 2001. The striker had bounced around from the Columbus Crew
to Red Bull New York to Toronto FC before finding his feet with Los Angeles in
At the helm has been Bruce Arena, a man with a distinguished coaching resume.
Arena had brought D.C. United to prominence at the inception of MLS, winning
two of the first three MLS Cup titles with the club before going on to coach
the United States national team in two World Cups. Arena returned to the
league with Red Bull New York in 2006 and eventually moved to Los Angeles to
start another dynasty.
When all of these pieces are taken into consideration, it's difficult to
discern which is more sensational: the Galaxy's dreadful start to the campaign
or the manner in which they recovered.
While everyone else was counting them out and jumping on the Sporting Kansas
City or the San Jose Earthquakes bandwagons, Los Angeles was plugging away
with one thing in sight.
The club achieved that goal, overcoming adversity at every turn to go level
with D.C. United for most MLS Cups in the trophy cabinet. That level of
success is not reached without experience.
Los Angeles is now a club in transition. A replacement for Beckham is sure to
follow, and the leading candidate for the role is reportedly Brazilian
playmaker Kaka. The 30-year-old brings the flair that Los Angeles would relish
as well as the experience that wins titles in this league.
Should MLS sign Kaka, next year's Galaxy sequel could be an even greater
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