CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy and Diego Polenta have parted ways.
A day after the club had declined Polenta’s contract option for the 2020 season the six-foot-one Uruguayan defender is leaving the club with a big hole to fill on defense.
“I want to thank all members of LA Galaxy for the trust, affection and the way they treated me,” Polenta explained with a social media post in both Spanish and English. “It was an amazing experience.
“I especially want to thank Guillermo and his coaching staff for believing in me and Dennis for always wanting the best for both parties. I know I will always be welcome back to the team, which is something I really appreciate.
“To my teammates, staff, and fans, a big thank you!
“Good luck and success for the upcoming!”
The Galaxy confirmed Polenta’s departure saying that the defender wanted to be “closer to family” and that they thanked him for his time with the club.
It’s a quick step from just yesterday when the club, in a press release, announced they were still negotiating with Polenta in hopes of retaining his services for the 2020 season.
But by declining his option, the Galaxy were more than likely looking for some cost savings on a salary that the MLSPA estimated at more than $777,000 per year. And with the player wanting to be closer to home, the two things probably didn’t work together well.
Polenta, who was voted the Galaxy’s Defender of the Year in 2019 by members of the media (Disclosure: CoG voted in that selection), was hit-and-miss throughout the season – like much of the Galaxy defense. He finished with over 2500 minutes, played in 28 games, and scored 1 goal but added an incredible six assists from both the center and left-back positions during the season.
He wasn’t pacey, but he was strong. And when he got it right, he was a stout defender for his 27-years of age. And no game was more indicative of that then when he took MLS MVP Carlos Vela to school in the first El Trafico of the 2019 season — a game the Galaxy would go on to win.
Polenta kept Vela from going to his preferred left foot for most of the night and consistently out-muscled the sneakily-quick Mexican International. It was a masterclass in defending and a reason the Galaxy were so successful on the night.
In the end, Polenta’s tenure will probably be forgotten more than remembered. And while that’s probably not fair to a player who wore his heart on his sleeve, he was part of a defense that finished tied for fifth-worst in the league and gave up 59 goals.
For the Galaxy, it’s an even bigger issue, as their roster looks woefully thin at defense with only Rolf Feltscher and Jorgen Skjelvik as returning starters. With the likelihood that Skjelvik returns to the team in 2020 very slim as well.
The club is still in negotiations with central defender Dan Steres who is definitely looking for a big bump in pay after putting in the most consistent season of any Galaxy defender. But General Manager Dennis te Kloese and Guillermo Barros Schelotto still have a bunch of vacancies to fill before the new season starts.
And that clock is already ticking.