During 2011, the LA Galaxy imposed their game on their opponents and forced them to come up with an answer. In Thursday’s SuperDraft, the roles will be reversed.
With the Galaxy holding the final pick in each of the draft’s two rounds, the club will not have its way with the rest of the league like it did throughout 2011.
“We’re picking 19 and that simply means we will be reacting off the 18 teams ahead of us,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said in a conference call on Tuesday. “It’s really that simple.”
The Galaxy have several areas that need addressing. Losing Omar Gonzalez to injury for several months and Juninho for good to São Paulo shows that the defending champions have gaps which need to be plugged. But Arena does not expect to fill those holes in Kansas City.
“I don’t think we can think that we can draft a player that will replace Omar,” Arena said. “Obviously, we’re aware of the fact that we have to bolster the back line, but we’re not going to be making up for the loss of Omar in this draft. That will have to come from other ways. ... [Juninho] is another player you’re not going to find in the SuperDraft.”
When the Galaxy are up at the19th pick – Arena said he did not anticipate trading up in the draft – the club will have to strike a balance between what is available and the team's needs.
“It will be a little bit of both, but we’re a little bit handcuffed at that position,” Arena said. “As we get closer to our pick, we’re going to have to react to where we think the draft is going in accordance to what we would like. What we’ve done over the last couple of years has been to be in a position to react.
"Last year, our pick Paolo [Cardozo] was simply based on the fact we thought he was the best soccer player available at that point, and that may be the case this year.”
Where the Galaxy could also find talent is the Supplemental Draft. Three of LA’s four Supplemental Draft picks from 2011 made the team as Dan Keat, Ryan Thomas and Dustin McCarty were around for the ride through the club's MLS and Champions League success. Keat played in five regular-season games, while Thomas appeared in one.
Still, Arena said he wasn't thinking too far down the road.
“You can’t outthink yourself," he said. "The first thing you do is see how the first two rounds play out, and then you have a week to get ready for the next four rounds. We’re obviously thinking of both, but I think we have to take it one step at a time. We want to try and get two good picks out of this draft and then focus on the following week.”