Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shallow Depth

Before the 2011 season, one of the Galaxy's strengths appeared to be depth. It seemed as if there were position battles at several positions - right back, central defender, central midfielder, left mid, forward. Position battles often means there is an abundance of talent, which equates to depth.

It hasn't quite turned out that way in the early going for the Galaxy, though. Despite Landon Donovan's constant praise of the Galaxy's depth - remember in preseason when he said the Galaxy may have the best 1-25 in MLS, ever? - the team's lack of depth is being exposed.

* Nobody has replaced Gregg Berhalter. The Galaxy's defense just has not been the same without him, and this is going back to August 2010 when he first started missing games due to injury.

* Frankie Hejduk has not been able to get off the pine - AJ De La Garza got the nod at right back over Hejduk when the need arose against DC United.

* The need arose at right back because Bruce Arena opted to fill a right-mid slot with the team's right back instead of a midfielder such as Michael Stephens or Paolo Cardozo.

* Mike Magee, Chad Barrett and Miguel Lopez have started at forward and have combined for zero goals because...

* ... Magee's goal against DC came when he started at left midfield.

So what happened to this depth that was supposed to have carried the Galaxy?

Now, there is still talent on the bench. Stephens, Cardozo, De La Garza can all be serviceable players, and Arena has been high on Daniel Keat and Hector Jimenez. Adam Cristman too has some things to offer but has been injured, which isn't a total surprise given his own history. Josh Saunders is a solid goalkeeper, so there's depth at that position too.

Some of this depth, though, needs time to develop. Cardozo, Keat, Jimenez and even Lopez still need time to adjust to the league and to get used to the club's tactics. All along, it seemed the goal for them was to get developed in time to contribute when the summer rolled around, with the team losing possibly three players to the Gold Cup, and then the rigors of the CONCACAF Champions League await, as well as US Open Cup tossed in there somewhere.

But that doesn't do the team any good now, because if the Galaxy can't sort their issues out in the next few games (at Toronto, at Chicago, Portland) the team might slip further behind Colorado and Real Salt Lake by the time summer arrives.

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