Photo by Steve Carrillo

Galaxy lose Corona to the expansion draft

Joe Corona is on his way to Texas as MLS’s newest expansion team, Austin FC, gets the midfielder in the expansion draft.

It took 2021 MLS expansion side Austin FC four picks before they selected LA Galaxy midfielder Joe Corona on Tuesday afternoon. The selection meant the 30-year-old Los Angeles native will depart the club after two successful seasons with the Galaxy and after initially joining the club in March of 2019 after the transfer of Ola Kamara to a Chinese Super League team.

The transfer of Kamara saw him split from teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic and opened up the necessary funds to go out and sign Corona — and others — who had been playing in Mexico for Club Tijuana (with various loans to other clubs).

In his first year with the Galaxy, Corona would score once and provide three assists for the club as he played in 31 of the teams 34 games under new head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. However, his 2020 season was a little quieter. Due to the global pandemic and a shortened season, the Galaxy played in just 22 games and Corona started just 12 of those games.

The box-to-box midfielder never found a rhythm this season and battled a small but nagging injury that kept him off the field for several games at a time. Like much of the team, Corona couldn’t exactly say he took a step forward over the last 12 months and probably has his sights set on a redemption season in Austin under head coach Josh Wolff. Add to it that he was originally signed to a Targeted Allocation Money contract with the MLSPA listing his salary at $550,000 and he was an expensive piece to keep on the roster.

At the conclusion of the 2020 season, the Galaxy declined Corona’s option but stated that they were continuing to negotiate with him in hopes that an agreement could be reached. How far those negotiations escalated is unknown.

The LA Galaxy will receive $50,000 in General Allocation Money for Corona’s selection during the expansion draft and may also be exempt from next year’s expansion draft. But being MLS tends to group expansion drafts into weird segments, that’s not guaranteed.