Galaxy face crucial personnel decisions as club retools for busy season ahead

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Photo by David Bernal/ISIphotos.com 


By ADAM SERRANO

The Los Angeles Galaxy may have won MLS Cup, but there is no rest for the defending champions. Not with David Beckham being heavily sought after by Qatari-owned Paris St. Germain and numerous key players out of contract as yet another busy schedule looms in 2012.

Although the Galaxy officially added Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas from Alajuelense on Tuesday, the club still faces a number of personnel decisions. 

Beckham remains the biggest prize, as the out-of-contract midfielder enjoyed his finest season in MLS in 2011. Despite reports from French daily L'Equipe that PSG's fervent pursuit of Beckham was "95 percent complete", head coach Bruce Arena asserted that the Galaxy are still in the running for the Englishman's signature. 

"I can tell you that as of today, it's certainly not a done deal," Arena said in a teleconference on Monday. "I think the Galaxy are very much interested in bringing David back. Again, it will be David's decision, but we're keenly interested in keeping the player here."

Beckham is not the only player that the Galaxy are seeking to retain, as Brazilian midfielder Juninho and defender Sean Franklin remain question marks for next season. Juninho's situation is the most complex, as the Brazilian's loan from Sao Paulo expires at year's end, and the Galaxy have stated that keeping the tenacious Brazilian midfielder is a top priority.

However, in order to retain Juninho, the Galaxy must pay a transfer fee to Sao Paulo, who are believed to be seeking a significant sum in return. On Monday, Arena said that the Galaxy issued an offer to Juninho to keep him in Los Angeles indefinitely. 

"Juninho has an offer, he knows where we stand," Arena said. "[Sao Paulo] knows that, his agent knows that. They just have to make a decision as to what they want to do."

Meanwhile, Franklin remains out of contract after a stellar season that saw him earn his first MLS All-Star appearance. Although Franklin has been primarily a right back throughout his four year tenure in MLS, Arena believes that the 26-year-old may be better suited for the right midfield going forward.

During the teleconference, Arena admitted that the Galaxy have offered a contract to Franklin, but whether or not he returns, is strictly his decision.

"It's his prerogative whether to accept the offer or not," said Arena. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen, and we have to move on. Hopefully, we can get something done this week."

The returns of Franklin, Juninho and Beckham may be uncertain, but with yet another full schedule on tap in 2012, the Galaxy set about stockpiling depth in the second stage of the MLS Re-Entry Draft on Monday. Los Angeles made six selections during the draft, selecting defenders Andy Boyens, Chris Leitch, midfielder Pat Noonan and goalkeeper Jon Conway. The club also retained the rights to defenders Dasan Robinson and Frankie Hejduk.

The club has seven days to tender contract offers to the players, but it will retain their MLS rights if agreements can not be reached. All six players are league veterans who can provide depth that will be vital to competing on a number of fronts.

The Galaxy face a daunting minimum of 43 games next year due to CONCACAF Champions League, U.S. Open Cup and league commitments. Should Los Angeles advance in the three competitions, as many as 10 extra games could be added to the docket. 

"What we were able to do is select players in some positions we believe we need cover for," Arena said. "They're all veteran players, they have experience, and they're good players for the locker room. At the end of the day, if we get some of them or all of them, they'll all be a positive asset for our team."

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27 Responses to Galaxy face crucial personnel decisions as club retools for busy season ahead

  1. Gnarls says:

    Beckham is good as gone, so Juninho’s situation is out of LA’s hands at the moment, so securing Franklin should be priority #1. No reason for him to leave LA except to head overseas.

  2. KungFuSoccer says:

    The recent activity of the Galaxy and Arena’s language gives me the impression that a lot of Galaxy fans are going to be very unhappy with who is not returning.

  3. dan says:

    One thing about MLS teams that is constant…. at the end of every MLS season every team has quite a bit of turnover.

    Any team that can maintain a continual level of year-in and year-out competitiveness has to be commended. This has more to do with good negotiating skills than with ability to judge talent.

  4. iheartubuntu says:

    In an interview just the other day Becks was asked what his plans are and he said something like “Im going home for Christmas shopping, then back home to LA in January.”

    Why would he be going to LA in January if his contract is up as of DEC 31?

  5. Will says:

    If Beckham is as good as gone, then the #1 priority has to be a revenue generator like Drogba or Ronaldinho. Otherwise, they fail to keep the brand moving and go backward. #2 prioriity is Juninho…He would work well with the Brazilian Sarvas. #3 is Franklin…De La Garza can play Right Back if necessary.

  6. spencer says:

    too bad they will probably end up losing franklin because of the money, not because he wants that much but because they can only offer him so little.

  7. Mario says:

    Just extend the loan for Juninho…He is still young and has lots to learn.

  8. dan says:

    hey Ives…. does anyone in MLS read these threads? just curious what do people in MLS read.

  9. fischy says:

    Because, along with many of his worldly possessions which he hasn’t packed up yet and the better weather in LA, there are all those tea leaves he left scattered around for you to read.

  10. fischy says:

    This is a terrific piece — one of the most insightful I’ve read on this site. Well done.

  11. Skip says:

    Just a guess, but I imagine his kids need to return to school, which they probably attend in the LA area.

  12. jbrader says:

    Thanks for the inside information.

  13. Gnarls says:

    I have no doubt LA will bring in a marquee player if/when Beckham leaves. Their new TV deal pretty much requires they keep their max of 3 DPs at all times.

    The Juninhno situation is puzzling. Not sure why they sign a new mid if they’re bringing Juninho on full time. Also don’t know how they fit his transfer and wages within the salary cap.

    All that’s left is getting Franklin nailed down. You’re right AJ can play right back, but that pokes a whole in Gonzales/Dunivant/DeLaGarza/Franklin back line.

  14. Gnarls says:

    *hole

  15. Mark says:

    Ha, I see what you did there.

  16. Colin says:

    The only thing I can think of with the Sarvas acquisition is just depth issues. With Birchall also out-of-contract and Magee in his preferred forward role, I think Arena wants and needs more flexibility and coverage in the midfield.

  17. Ivan says:

    Agree about De La Garza being able to play right back. In fact, AJ and Franklin should switch positons, with AJ the right back and Franklin the CB.

  18. Tirio says:

    Sarvas fills a starting playmaking spot at either Right Mid or at CAM if Beckham leaves. LA still needs a capable starting D-Mid.

    Stephens is a good energy player as a defensive sub, but they need the offensive skills of a guy like Juninho as a starter at D-Mid. Birchall can walk, because Stephens is a younger, cheaper alternative as a defensive sub. After the Ricketts trade, the Berhalter retirement, and the departure of Birchall, LA should have enough for Juninho. I dont see guys like Cristaman, Kirovski, or Lopez coming back either.

    LA picked up Andrew Boyens, who could form a monster tandem with Omar in the middle. Leonardo and Alvarado may also still be in the fold. LA has done well with their drafting of defenders. I expect them to go after another one.

  19. Kuwoshimi says:

    Mage would be even more effective for LA as a utility player on the left wing or at forward.

  20. Supsam says:

    thats right! It means exactly the way it sounds or is it, it sounds exactly as it means haha. Shady business

  21. V Dog says:

    He already owns that town the way he played last season.

    This is vital cog that hey have to keep, especially if they want a shot in CCL, where he shines.

  22. ViperLAG says:

    Most likely he would remain in LA for a part of January since most European leagues take that time off as well in their winter schedule. Plus, he wouldn’t be able to go anywhere right after the holidays since the transfer window doesn’t start until the 1st week of January!

  23. bottlcaps says:

    It’s o secret that Beckham has no plans to sell his house in LA. That being said, he may plan to return to LaLa lad after his PSG contract expires (but to his retirement and ot to play football)

    So the breakdown is:

    PSG pluses:
    -chance to play in UEFA CL or UEFA League
    -crosses to Tevez instead of Barett
    -close to England and Olympics
    -Fashion capitol for Victoria
    -Hey! It’s Paris!!!
    -Mo’Money Mo’ Money Mo’ Money!
    PSG minuses.
    -Hey it’s France!!
    -Paris drivers are worse than LA’s
    -Weather! ugh
    -No good Mexican food places to eat.
    -Too far to the Beach.
    -Kids have to learn to swear in French.
    -Disneyland Paris SUCKS
    -Victoria and the kids want to stay in LA

    Galaxy Pluses:
    -AEG Vice Presidency!
    -Surfs up
    -The paparazzi pretty much leave you alone unless your Lilo or Britney Spears.
    -Free LA Laker tickets.
    -Playboy Mansion down the street
    -Will START every game your healthy.
    -Chance to travel to exotic locations.
    -Weather Yeah!
    -Will still make more money than anybody else here.
    - Hollywood Baby!!!

    Minuses for the Galaxy:
    -Concacaf Champions League
    -Long way to London Olympics.
    -Always the chance you’ll miss the turn ad end up in Compton not Carson.
    -Still the big fish in a small pond.
    -Crosses to Cristman and not Tevez.
    -LA Freeways.

    I still think there is a good chance he will remain in LA

  24. Mike Gray says:

    Adam Serrano wrote this piece actually, but to address your question, there are front office types from MLS and the different teams that browse the online soccer community to get an idea of what the fans are thinking. As far as players and coaching staff goes, not so much.

  25. Timber Dan says:

    Did Bruce Arena really say it’s Sean Franklin’s “prerogative” to sign or not?!

  26. Yuri says:

    the Big Tuna of soccer

  27. TommyOC says:

    I worry Franklin will pull a Buddle and head to Europe. Franklin would be a great winger in Arena’s system, as he’s prove at times this season, but he wouldn’t be employed as such overseas.

    Juninho will only NOT come back if Sao Paolo can find a higher bidder for a permenant trade. They’ve shown little interest in using him themselves, so he will be a permenant member of another side for next season… Just hope it’s LA.

    Becks…. I still put him at a 60% return to LA. I think the other staff moves for LA will help sway that one way or the other.

    A note: Cristman was also in the Re-Entry draft… Though he pulled out, if memory serves. Since he makes only 42k, its debatable if the Galaxy will bring him back. Barrett did well last season with Keane. But the Galaxy needs a good third striker… And that’s not Cristman. Someone call Alan Gordon….