Steve Carrillo

Five Solutions to the LA Galaxy Midfield Problem

As the #OnalfoOut hashtags fill up my twitter feed, it’s not exactly breaking news to say 2017 hasn’t been going well with the LA Galaxy. Sunday’s 3-0 loss to rival Seattle Sounders at home saw the Galaxy outplayed on every front. It was embarrassing to me as a fan, and hopefully, even more embarrassing for the players and staff.

The largest log on the current dumpster fire is, without a doubt, the midfield. Jermaine Jones and Joao Pedro, both additions under Onalfo-Vagenas, have been a disastrous midfield pairing. The difficulty with Jermaine Jones in midfield has been documented elsewhere, but for now, he seems like a must-start for the Galaxy. This leaves us with Pedro, who has frustratingly appeared timid in his defensive work, slow in his positioning, and inaccurate in his passing.

But let’s not dwell on the negative, but look for a solution. Keep in mind that the Galaxy only need to tread water until Lletget returns, hopefully around August/September. We don’t need to make a big move, just a move that works for a couple months. A bitter man might take one last shot at Onalfo-Vagenas by pointing out the quality of veteran defensive midfielders that were available this off-season: guys like former Galaxy midfielders Juninho and Jeff Larentowicz, stud Dax McCarty, or even fiery Will Johnson. An even more bitter man might point out that Sam Cronin was apparently on the trading block. Good thing I’m not a bitter man.

Here are a few solutions to the Pedro problem still available to Onalfo-Vagenas:

  1. Pedro Puts it Together

While fans, including myself, are quick to give up on players, the easiest solution to this problem is Pedro getting settled and being the player Onalfo thought he was. In the limited footage you can find on youtube of Pedro in Portugal, he appears a much better passer of the ball than we’ve seen to this point in the season. Who know, maybe the Galaxy coaches can even teach him to win a tackle. He’s young and many foreign players, most memorably David Beckham, struggle in their first experiences in MLS.

In any case, here’s to hoping.

  1. Baggio Husidic

I was shocked that Onalfo’s first half substitution of Husidic was for the speedy Boateng, rather than the listless Pedro. Husidic is anything but sexy, but he’s a solid MLS midfielder. He won’t win you the game in midfield, but isn’t that why we picked up Jermaine Jones? Perhaps more important at this moment, Husidic will not lose you the game in midfield. Another huge positive of this move is that it costs the Galaxy little to nothing: just pencil in a different name, Curt.

Rafa Garcia is another potential step in already on the roster, but it seems Onalfo agrees with former coach Bruce Arena’s evaluation of Husidic’s superiority to Garcia at that position. And to those saying something like “they spent money on him in the offseason they can’t give up on him yet,” the MLS player’s union release of player salaries shows Husidic is paid more than Pedro.

  1. Jelle Van Damme

I realize I’m moving away from a traditional solution to the more extreme with this pick, but I’m actually quite intrigued by this possibility. JVD is a famously versatile player, moonlighting as a midfielder, left back, and center back throughout his career. There is no question he will bring a bite sorely lacking from the LA Galaxy’s current midfield, and his passing has always been a strength. The possible reward is worth the risk in this case, especially given the depth at center back compared with a defensive midfield. A back line buoyed by Steres-Romney (or even Diallo) is perhaps weaker than one with JVD but is solid enough to allow for experimentation.

  1. Kyle Beckerman

Don’t worry, I’m aware he’s not currently on the roster. A forgotten benefit of a good academy system is a constant flow of trade fodder. While it pains me to say it, guys like Jack McBean, Raul Mendiola, or Jose Villarreal are more valuable to the Galaxy as trade bait than players on the field at the moment. That’s okay, and I’d actually be excited to see those guys get quality minutes elsewhere.

As for Beckerman, he’s been a solid number 6 for club and country long enough that I don’t have to write about his virtues. He is, however, getting up there in age (35), which may mean rebuilding RSL would be willing to part with him for the right offer. There are also some lesser players on the RSL roster that might be worth pursuing. Luke Mulholland and Chris Wingert come to mind.

  1. Marcelo Sarvas

The former Galaxy man is currently coming off the bench for DC United. Like Beckerman, Sarvas is a player who is well past their prime and slowing down, but a solid pick up. Again, these guys would only have to start until the return of Lletget. Sarvas’ price would surely be less than Beckerman’s but would bring the same aggressive mentality to the midfield. Another previous Galaxy man, Sean Franklin, might be another option to transition to defensive midfield.

Maybe some of these will be attempted, maybe none of them will. Hopefully one of them works. All I know is that with LAFC coming into the league next year, potentially with Chicharito in tow, 2017 cannot be a losing year for the LA Galaxy.