The LA Galaxy are facing an early crisis of sorts. Both Gyasi Zardes and Robbie Rogers, presumed starters for the team, haven’t been training with the team for most of the preseason because of two injuries that are worse than initially presumed.
Kevin Baxter, a Co-Host right here on CoG: From the Box, and LA Galaxy Beat Writer for the LA Times is reporting that Gyasi Zardes underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Zardes, 25-years old and the Galaxy’s most successful Homegrown Player, hasn’t played in an MLS Game since a scoreless draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps on August 27, 2016. It was in that game that he suffered a broken right foot and wasn’t able to make a comeback before LA was eliminated from the playoffs.
Zardes was expected to be a key component in LA’s offensive remodel – where the Galaxy build around Giovani dos Santos and put Zardes in the number nine position. But with this knee injury, suffered in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s January camp, he has yet to train with the Galaxy.
Baxter reports that a Galaxy spokesman said that Zardes was “progressing” and “should be back to training soon.”
Robbie Rogers is another injury that seems to be more serious than originally thought. Rogers started the last eight games of the season in 2016, plus the Galaxy’s three post-season games. But he hasn’t trained with the team in recent weeks and Head Coach Curt Onalfo says, as reported by LA Galaxy Insider, that Rogers isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the season after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. He’s receiving treatment but with his lack of participation and the Galaxy basically writing him off for the next three weeks, his status is very uncertain.
Curt Onalfo says that he does not "anticipate" Robbie Rogers being available for the start of the season. https://t.co/O5e4qhL8U0
Gyasi Zardes has been replaced in the most recent preseason games by another LA Galaxy Homegrown player, Jack McBean. McBean had a standout season in USL last year and was loaned out to Coventry City, in England, for the second half of 2016. McBean is likely to get plenty of starting minutes with the Galaxy in 2017.
Another possible replacement for the Zardes is Ariel Lassiter who has also received some playing time with the first team in the preseason. Both Lassiter and McBean played together on LA Galaxy II last year and both players had very successful seasons.
However, when it comes to replacing Robbie Rogers the Galaxy are showing their true lack of depth. The team traded AJ DeLaGarza who proved extremely valuable with the team in 2016 where he basically filled every defensive position. The Galaxy Rafael Garcia has received both starts at right back during this preseason. However, Garcia shows his real strength as a defensive midfielder. His conversion to right back is a work in progress. And honestly, the drop off from Garcia might be even steeper than from Rogers to Garcia. Nathan Smith and Josh Turnley both have experience with LA Galaxy II but might be a stretch to slot into an MLS lineup.
The Galaxy have given Rafael Garcia both starts at right back during this preseason. However, Garcia shows his real strength as a defensive midfielder. His conversion to right back is a work in progress. And honestly, the drop off from Garcia to the next viable candidate might be even steeper than from Rogers to Garcia. Nathan Smith and Josh Turnley both have experience with LA Galaxy II but might be a stretch to slot into an MLS lineup.
Regardless of the replacements, these early season injuries are proving how delicate the Galaxy are as currently constituted. And while the roster of 23 players has plenty of players, proven names are hard to come by outside the starting lineup.
2017 will be an interesting year for the Galaxy as they move on from fan favorites and veteran players and coaches. There will be many chances for some of the younger players to establish themselves as MLS caliber players, but I doubt anyone in the Galaxy’s Front Office expected to have to dig so deep, so soon.