Photo by Steve Carrillo

Roster moves: Galaxy declines options on eight players

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy announced Monday they had declined the contract options of eight players and exercised the options on four others as the team met its first roster-building deadline of the 2018 off-season.

Defenders Ashley Cole, Rolf Feltscher, Sheanon Williams and Michael Ciani; goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre, forward Ariel Lassiter and midfielders Baggio Husidic and Servando Carrasco had their options declined. Meanwhile, the Galaxy exercised the contract options of midfielders Sebastian Lletget and Bradford Jamieson IV, defender Daniel Steres and goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg, thus ensuring they’ll remain with the team for the 2019 season (barring trades or transfers).

OPTIONS DECLINEDMichael Ciani, Brian Sylvestre, Ariel Lassiter, Sheanon Williams, Ashley Cole, Rolf Feltscher, Baggio Husidic, Servando Carrasco
OPTIONS EXERCISEDSebastian Lletget, Daniel Steres, Bradford Jamieson IV, Justin Vom Steeg
OUT OF CONTRACTDave Romney, Chris Pontius, Emmanuel Boateng

Defender Dave Romney and midfielders Chris Pontius and Emmanuel Boateng are out of contract but already are involved in negotiations for the 2019 season. That means of the 27 players on the 2018 Galaxy roster, only 16 remain. But that still equates to more than $15 million in total salary with several contract values expected to increase in 2019. By declining the options on the aforementioned eight players, the Galaxy jettisoned more than $2 million. Cole and Ciani made up more than $1.3 million of that.

Those two moves alone should free up a significant amount of salary cap and TAM (targeted allocation money) space. And that’s room the team will need to rebuild a back line that currently consists of just two starters (Steres and Jorgen Skjelvik).

In all, there were few surprises in Monday’s announcement. Only Feltscher leaves a bit of a question mark.

He was sidelined for much of the season with a torn pectoral muscle but then played a significant role in the Galaxy’s success in the last few months of the season. He started 15 games at right back and had one goal and three assists, but his pace was lacking and his defense was sometimes desperate.

It’s impossible to say if a ballooning price tag in 2019 wasn’t worth the risk or if the Galaxy simply were unhappy with his play. Declining his option doesn’t mean you won’t see him, or anyone else, on the field for the Galaxy next year. It might just be the first step in renegotiating an unacceptable raise in the mind of the club.

It should also be pointed out that Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic is under contract for the 2019 season and is listed on the Galaxy’s roster. But with unsubstantiated rumors still swirling around his future with AC Milan, there is little time to feel comfortable about his future with the Galaxy.

The roster moves come at a strange time for the Galaxy. After all, they have not had a permanent head coach for 77 days and have been without a general manager for just under three weeks. Monday’s decisions were made by the remnants of a technical staff that was around for the 2017 and 2018 debacles and is headed by a front office that had to fire two head coaches (Curt Onalfo and Sigi Schmid) and a general manager (Schmid) in the last two seasons.

The Galaxy clearly have been in disarray since head coach/general manager Bruce Arena left for an ill-fated rescue mission with the U.S. men’s national team, which failed to qualify for last summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Only Kurt Schmid, brought on at the beginning of the 2018 season to bolster the Galaxy’s global scouting, can be semi-excused from the missteps of the past. But it’s unclear exactly who had their input in reshaping the roster and who will decide when permanent appointments for coach and general manager will be made.

The Galaxy now get a short break before a Dec. 9 half-day trade window and before they’ll need to reveal their list of 11 protected players for the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft, which will mark FC Cincinnati’s official entry into the league.

Being short of a general manager and head coach in the coming weeks isn’t going to make 2019 any easier. Time definitely is not on the Galaxy’s side.

2019 LA GALAXY ROSTER (as of Monday, Nov. 26)

  • GOALKEEPERS (2): David Bingham, Justin Vom Steeg
  • DEFENDERS (4): Jorgen Skjelvik, Tomas Hilliard-Arce, Hugo Arellano, Daniel Steres
  • MIDFIELDERS (6): Romain Alessandrini, Jonathan dos Santos, Perry Kitchen, João Pedro, Sebastian Lletget, Bradford Jamieson IV
  • FORWARDS (4): Zlatan Ibrahimović, Ola Kamara, Giovani dos Santos, Efrain Alvarez
2019 Offseason Roster as of 11.26.18. Property of Corner of the Galaxy
  • 11.26.18 at 3:10 p.m. PT – Updated the article with more conjecture on Feltscher’s contract options