With their pick in the MLS SuperDraft often low and salary cap issues throughout the roster, the LA Galaxy do not often have great opportunities to pick up players.
So when the chance to bolster their roster presented itself in the form of Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft on Monday, the Galaxy bit.
They selected four players – all veterans – the most of any club in the league. LA picked up defenders Andrew Boyens and Chris Leitch, forward Pat Noonan (above) and goalkeeper Jon Conway. Additionally, the club pulled back Dasan Robinson and Frankie Hejduk and can re-negotiate with the duo to bring them back into the fold for 2012.
The rest of the league combined snapped up a total of six players, the same number the Galaxy came away with in the second phase of the player-movement vehicle.
“I’m not quite sure why other teams did not really choose to use this Re-Entry Draft, but I thought there was some value in it and hopefully it works out in the end,” manager Bruce Arena said in a conference call on Monday.
With a busy calendar looming in 2012, the need for depth across the board was necessary. Perhaps highlighting the type of year the Galaxy will have, the club will open 2012 with a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Toronto FC. With at least two CCL knockout matches, six 2012-13 CCL group stage matches, at least one US Open Cup match and 34 regular-season games, the Galaxy will play a minimum of 43 competitive games next calendar year.
The figure can grow by as many as 10 games or more should the Galaxy make a run in each of their competitions.
“When you look at the schedule next year, it’s going to be pretty full and it will require players with experience, and hopefully we’ve gotten enough of that,” Arena explained. “We’re going to bring back some good young players and pick up some good young players in the SuperDraft as well, so I’m confident that at the end of the day we’re going to have a pretty solid roster.”
Another player they’re hoping to bring back is out-of-contract right back Sean Franklin. Arena said he hoped to have “something done this week” with the 2008 Rookie of the Year.
Regardless, the Galaxy added some experience at fullback with Leitch, who shoots down Interstate 5 from the San Jose Earthquakes and joins up with his old coach.
“Chris Leitch is a very solid player,” Arena said. “I had him in New York with the Red Bulls. I know the player. Again, a player that can offer cover at the right back and left back positions and can also play a little center back. He’s an experienced player who I think can also help our roster.”
Boyens is a player familiar with the Home Depot Center, as the New Zealand international steps across the hall from Chivas USA.
“Andrew Boyens is a player that I’ve followed for years,” Arena said. “He’s a good teammate, pretty solid center back and can give us cover in that position.”
After dealing away goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to Montreal, the Galaxy were down a ‘keeper until Monday, when the club picked up the bow tie-wearing Conway.
“Jon Conway, another player I also had in New York,” Arena said. “Good, solid goalkeeper if healthy and in good form. Again, he’s someone who can help give us depth in the goalkeeping position. Players we selected can all fill a role in our team.”
Perhaps the most intriguing selection is Noonan. The longtime Revolution player has struggled to maintain his health, having played just 54 games and scoring four goals in the last four seasons for Columbus, Colorado and Seattle. Previously he’d played 119 games and tallied 37 goals in his first five seasons, all with New England.
“He’s dealt with some injuries over the last couple of years and we’re hopeful that he can get himself back fit and get into the kind of form that allows him to be a real good player,” said Arena, who gave Noonan each of the attacker’s 15 caps with the US national team. “He’s a player that has a lot of experience in the league and he’s scored a number of goals. If he’s healthy he can certainly help our roster.”
Ultimately, those “ifs” were ones Arena was willing to risk as a way of surmounting the obstacles in building a roster that needs to be competitive across four different competition in the next 12 months.
“It’s challenging,” Arena said. “I think this draft allows us to have the ability to get some experienced players when we’re limited because of the various drafts where we stand.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org