Is LA Galaxy Better Off Without its Designated Players?
By Alex Baker
Los Angeles — Last season the summer arrivals of Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos at the Los Angeles Galaxy coincided with a downturn in form that resulted in an early exit from the playoffs for the five-time MLS champs.
At the time, Gerrard, a club legend and UEFA Champions League winner with Liverpool, and dos Santos, a Barcelona academy product and fixture for the Mexican national team, were seen by many as having disrupted what had been a cohesive Galaxy team.
Unfortunately for Gerrard and dos Santos, this season’s results have done little to dispel the narrative that the Galaxy was better off without them.
In the home opener on March 6, with the Galaxy down 1-0, dos Santos went off with a muscle injury at halftime. Mike Magee came on in the second half and promptly created four goals – scoring twice, assisting once, and winning a penalty to fire the Galaxy to a 4-1 win over DC United.
Two weeks later, having lost 1-0 away to the Colorado Rapids the week prior, LA saw Gerrard go off just four minutes into the California Clasico against San Jose Earthquakes. Baggio Husidic replaced the former England international and the Galaxy cruised to a commanding 3-1 win.
Though it was a win for the Galaxy, it did little to aid the cause of the 35-year-old Gerrard who, despite his stated commitment to giving his all for the only club other than Liverpool he’s played for in his career, still looks to be visibly struggling to cope with the pace of play in Major League Soccer.
Dos Santos meanwhile, at just 26 is still in his prime. Yet, despite a soccer pedigree that in addition to Barcelona includes stints at Tottenham Hotspur, Galatasaray and Villarreal, he has yet to consistently show his best in a Galaxy jersey.
Photo by Celso Bayo.