CARSON, Calif. – David Beckham is leaving. Landon Donovan says he'll take time off to mull over his future and this might be it. Omar Gonzalez could have European suitors. São Paulo could call in their Juninho loan.
An era might be ending Saturday at the Home Depot Center (4:30 pm ET; ESPN, TeleFutura in the US; TSN/RDS in Canada), with Major League Soccer's dominant club of the past four years – with three MLS Cup appearances and a chance for a second straight title – set for major changes in the offseason. Might this be, for this group, a last hurrah?
“We don't know,” said Donovan, the Galaxy captain, who has hinted he could take an indefinite break from soccer after Saturday. “All we know is David won't be here next year, but any team from year to year has a lot of turnover. That's the way sports are. That's the way this league is, like any other league.”
The Galaxy have made changes every year since Bruce Arena took charge in August 2008, but Beckham's departure is massive – not just off the field – and if Donovan decides he's had enough, that's two Designated Players gone, and two of LA's big-name stars.
Gonzalez, the 2011 MLS Defensive Player of the Year, was targeted last year by Bundesliga outfit FC Nürnberg – he tore an ACL in his first training session of a loan spell to the German club – and could have more suitors after regaining his form. Juninho signed a new contract last winter with São Paulo and returned to the Galaxy only after he failed to find a spot in the Brazilian powerhouse's rotation.
“Looks bleak; making me feel sad here,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said after hearing the list. “To be quite honest, we're so focused on [the MLS Cup final]. Sunday, as coaches, you start beginning the process. Rosters change every year, we know that. The cast of characters that may change is pretty significant, if in fact all those [players mentioned] leave us.
“The only thing I can say, there's always going to be turnover every two to three years. If it's top-heavy in major players, then we groom the next layer coming up and we supplement the group that's leaving with players that are very good. We have an organization committed to do that.”
The Galaxy previously have expressed interest in English midfielder Frank Lampard, whose tenure at Chelsea appears near its end. AEG president Tim Leiweke this week confirmed interest in Brazilian midfielder Kaká, who is with Real Madrid. The level likely wouldn't drop if one or both arrived, but the team's personality would change.
“There's always a sense at the end of the year that you never know what's going to happen,” said left back Todd Dunivant, who is expected to return. “Last year, same thing, same kind of questions around Omar and David. This is nothing new to us.”
Midfielder Mike Magee said he doesn't “really care what's going on after this game. I think everyone else feels the same way. We're all focused and know the importance of winning the championship.”
That's head coach/GM Bruce Arena's take, too. Asked about the possible departures, he was succinct in his reply: “Why don't you hold your funeral services somewhere else? We're playing a game on Saturday. We're not worried about any of that stuff, really.”