CARSON, Calif. – Giovani Dos Santos' arrival comes on the heels of Steven Gerrard's and follows the unexpected splash Sebastian Lletget has made since returning home from England, and all of it has the LA Galaxy facing soaring expectations that can be satisfied only with another MLS Cup title come December.
And that's just a start.
Club president Chris Klein proclaimed after Tuesday afternoon's StubHub Center news conference officially welcoming Dos Santos to the Galaxy that the Mexican star's arrival is part of something much bigger than winning more MLS Cup championships.
“Our goal every year is to win a championship,” said Klein, a former Galaxy midfielder. “I think that this – not this single thing [with Dos Santos], but the team that we're building – we want to win everything that there is out there. I think MLS Cup is one part of that, but we're aiming for something bigger.
“We want to be the first [MLS] club to win Champions League. We want to set the standard for MLS, like we've done so many times before.”
Dos Santos is slated to make his club debut in LA's Champions League opener Thursday night against Caribbean champion Central FC, from Trinidad and Tobago. The Galaxy are serious about ending Mexico's seven-year reign since the new tournament took over for the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, which LA won back in 2000.
The additions of Dos Santos and Gerrard – and of Lletget – has provided the ammunition to do so.
“Everything sets it up,” Klein said. “We've been wanting to make the push for a couple years now. There are a number of difference challenges. Mexican teams are very, very good and have a high quality, but we're getting there. [Adjusting the] scheduling is also something that we need to look at, which we're hopeful that that happens.
“But this is a move toward winning competitions like MLS Cup, winning competitions like Champions League.”
The Galaxy have won three of the last four MLS Cup titles, including last year's, and they're heading into their fifth Champions League campaign in six years. They've reached the semifinals just once, losing in 2013 to Monterrey, and have fallen twice in the quarterfinals.
The knockout-stage schedule favors teams in Mexico and Central America, who are in midseason form while MLS clubs are in preseason and the opening weeks of the regular season. Real Salt Lake in 2011 and the Montreal Impact last spring reached the championship home-and-home, but both were beaten after notching first-leg draws.
The Galaxy welcome such expectations, but they also want to temper them somewhat.
“Sure, we're probably going to win the World Cup and the FIFA world championship and all that other [stuff],” defender Dan Gargan kidded when asked about such predictions. “Expectations are one thing, reality is another thing, and it's going to take some time. It's a process.
“As much talent as we have on this roster, you still have to play with each other, and there's a learning curve. I don't care if you're [French legend Zinedine] Zidane, it's still getting to know one another and understand tendencies. There are a lot of different partnerships that are playing out on the field and working themselves out that will see some ups and downs. You see some bumps and bruises.”
Captain Robbie Keane welcomes the pressure to achieve such things.
“When you get players that we have, of course people are going to expect you to do things, to win things,” the Irish striker said. “That's the responsibility that we have to take, and we will take that, because we're the Galaxy. We're known for bringing top players in and will continue to bring top players in to make this club bigger and better. We're always going to do that.
“With Gio coming in, it's showing how serious we are in terms of wanting to be successful and wanting to win.”
Added Klein: “We want to be the best club not only in our league, but in our region. We know that there's a number of different competitions, different ways to measure that, but our goal is clear: We want to be the best in this region, and we're going to continue to be aggressive every step of the way and in everything we do.”