CARSON, Calif. – While the Los Angeles Galaxy did well to win the Supporters’ Shield in 2010, their task of claiming the league’s best record in 2011 will be far more difficult, if only because of their congested schedule.
Winning the Shield booked a direct ticket to the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League, adding six games to the club’s slate. With the regular season extending four games, LA will have that many more games to deal with next season.
What will help make the Galaxy’s 2011 campaign as memorable and successful as last season? Here's MLSsoccer.com's to-do list for Los Angeles this winter.
A second forward
Edson Buddle’s 17 goals were testament to his strength and outstanding campaign, and that he did it as essentially the club’s lone out-and-out striker makes it more remarkable. To expect him to produce in similar fashion without upgrading the forward position, though, is perhaps expecting too much. Another consistent forward to help alleviate the scoring load and draw some defenders away from Buddle is a must.
With one season under his belt, Juninho could make a strong leap in 2011 and could develop into a star. On the field, the Brazilian youngster was perhaps a bit too much like his demeanor off it – quiet and reserved. That could change as he should have more confidence. But Juninho needs to return in order to make that happen. Both the player and the club have expressed interest in keeping the São Paulo loanee at the Home Depot Center, and that needs to be finalized.
No loan for Becks
David Beckham tore his Achilles tendon in March but returned just shy of six months. Still, despite playing seven regular-season games and all three playoff matches, he was hampered with persistent pain and discomfort. A full offseason of rest will help him recover, and with Becks around from Day One, the club will be better off for it.
More muscle in defense
With Gregg Berhalter pondering retirement, the Galaxy have a need to find more help in central defense. Berhalter was a rock for the first five months of the season, but his health concerns down the stretch were troubling for the club and coincided with the team’s late-season defensive collapse. A.J. DeLaGarza did fine in central defense and could be a long-term solution, but the defense needs a boost regardless.
Depth across the board
CONCACAF play will test the Galaxy’s limits in 2011. In late May and June, the Gold Cup could rob the Galaxy of players such as US internationals Landon Donovan, Buddle and possibly Omar Gonzalez, as well as Jamaican ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts. In August, the Champions League will add six games to the team’s calendar as LA will have league games on the weekend and international fixtures midweek. In order to adequately handle that and not only come out unscathed but maintain its status as title contenders, the club must bring in some capable players.
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