Depending on what type of Los Angeles Galaxy fan you are, you’re either angry or desperate at the impending start to the season. Perhaps both?! What’s certain is that Galaxy’s off-season instability won’t delay the start of the 2023 campaign in 24 days.
The new MLS television deal with Apple TV will debut with the G’s playing “host” to their crosstown rivals LAFC on February 25, 2023, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Ca. This is the first time the teams have played since meeting in the playoffs last year, but after an entire off-season, the G’s simply aren’t ready.
Take away the off-season distraction of a cheating scandal that led to a transfer ban and fine, and you still have a team dealing with unforeseen off-season instability both on and off the field.
Players Leaving Los Angeles
For those keeping scores, the Galaxy transferred six first-team starters or contributors out in the off-season. Nick Depuy, Derrick Williams, Cameron Dunbar, and Víctor Vázquez were moved on, while Kevin Cabral’s contract was bought out.
In Cabral’s case, the Galaxy has agreed to pay half the Frenchman’s salary, just so he isn’t playing in Los Angeles. His countryman Samuel Grandsir’s departure to Ligue 2 side Le Havre is a surprise, as Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney was clearly planning on having him in the squad.
Merci Sam 💙🤍💛#LAGalaxy transfer Samuel Grandsir to Ligue 2 side Le Havre AC.
📰 https://t.co/3VyWFRUKWh | @kinecta pic.twitter.com/GWvzqnh3pZ
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) January 23, 2023
But with Grandsir dealing with personal issues back home, Vanney decided the risk of having a player who would have their head in two places, wasn’t worth the risk of adding to the Galaxy’s off-season instability. This leaves the Galaxy with only one recognized winger in the starting 11, Douglas Costa.
Grandsir’s exit might have caused the “unplanned departure” floodgates to open. Yesterday’s European deadline day had two more first-teamers potentially leaving Los Angeles. Efrain Alvarez had interest shown by Benfica and Besiktas. With Turkey’s transfer window closing a week later than Europe, Besiktas will have until February 8 to get a deal done for the young Mexican international.
Julian Araujo seemed to be on his way out for his dream move to Barcelona on deadline day, only for paperwork issues to make the deal lag at the last minute. Who’s to blame is anyone’s guess, but FIFA will now have to decide the issue.
Whether the Galaxy loses another starter, just three weeks before their opening match, is no longer a decision they or Araujo will make. If Araujo does leave, Vanney’s “core” which he was counting on to start the season, took a massive hit as Araujo will be extremely difficult to replace on such short notice.
The Galaxy hasn’t signed the type of impact player that fans have come to expect from the supposed jewel of MLS. Once upon a time, the Zlatans and Beckhams of the world would arrive, now supporters just want any type of signing. But LA hasn’t made a lot of movement for depth pieces or solid first-team contributors, either.
So far, the club has added just two pieces to help reinforce the squad.
Defender Chris Mavinga will reunite with Vanney from their TFC days and is, by all accounts, a dependable defender who could help further shore up a defense that was left exposed frequently last season. Mavinga should settle nicely and quickly, as he’s played in Vanney’s “system” and has familiarity with the Galaxy coach’s game plan.
Los Angeles also added an experienced midfielder in Memo Rodriguez. The former Houston man suited up for them 143 times, with 92 of those being starts. Rodriguez can also produce a bit. He had three assists last year in 30 appearances and will be a necessary piece for a midfield short on experienced players beyond the starters.
“We are pleased to welcome Memo to the LA Galaxy,” Vanney said of his new player in a Galaxy press release. “Memo is a talented and hard-working midfielder whose qualities complement our group and provide us with depth and versatility.”
While the signings aren’t going to excite fans the way Zlatan did, Mavinga and Rodriguez will both provide the necessary depth for the Galaxy in defense and midfield.
Our newest Angelinos pic.twitter.com/JKXFFbC1MH
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) January 6, 2023
We Need Wingers!
But while the Galaxy got stronger in one place, they look severely shorthanded on the wings.
Losing Cabral and Grandsir, and perhaps Araujo (who plays offensively as cover sometimes), has left the Galaxy in an emergency. Only Douglas Costa can be considered a starting winger on this roster, which means LA is in serious need of wing help.
The Galaxy will need to acquire at least two first-11 caliber wingers, and an outside back if Araujo leaves, and they only have 24 days to do it.
They can’t afford to miss on these signings, either.
Los Angeles will not be able to improve their squad again this season as they deal with the punishments imposed by MLS after their cheating scandal came to light.
“If You’re Not Cheating, You Ain’t Trying”
While the old adage offers ethical quandaries, problems only arise when you’ve been caught. The problem is, LA got caught and that just added to the Galaxy’s off-season instability.
According to MLS, the Galaxy “entered into agreements that were not disclosed that included payments that were not accounted for in the calculation of Cristian Pavón’s salary budget and roster category.” Essentially, the Galaxy claimed Pavon was on a Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contract when he really wasn’t.
The Galaxy was punished with a million-dollar fine and a further loss of $1 million in General Allocation Money (GAM) for 2023. Additionally, LA Galaxy President Chris Klein was suspended from any “sporting-related responsibilities through the conclusion of the Primary Transfer Window.”
But the one that really hurts is Los Angeles “will be prohibited from registering a player who requires the receipt of an International Transfer Certificate (ITC) from outside the United States and Canada during the Secondary Transfer Window (summer) in 2023.”
This means that if the Galaxy doesn’t get their signings right in the next 24 days, they won’t be able to add anyone midseason to help the way they brought in Riqui Puig last year.
Klein’s contract as president was somehow extended by Galaxy owner, AEG despite the Galaxy’s cheating scandal, fine, and his own suspension. This, combined with the club missing the playoffs in four of the last six years, prompted action by the supporters’ groups.
— LA Riot Squad (@LARiotSquad) January 14, 2023
Three Weeks Gone
In response to AEG giving Klein an extension, which had the news broken by the L.A. Times’ Kevin Baxter, five supporter groups, Galaxians, LA Riot Squad, Angel City Brigade, Galaxy Outlawz, and Ghosts Ultras Galaxy announced a boycott of Galaxy matches.
They’ve promised to stay away until “change is made at the highest level.” Translation: the supporters want Klein and Galaxy Technical Director Jovan Kirovski out. They’re willing to go to extreme lengths to make it happen.
The supporter groups had a meeting with AEG leadership, including AEG President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Beckerman, to air grievances and their demands for resolution. Almost three weeks on from the boycott announcement, though, the Galaxy and its supporters are in a high-stakes game of chicken. Neither side has blinked, but the club has made its position ever more untenable by its roster instability and lack of signings.
Each side has much to lose, and the situation does not seem to have an easy compromise. The Galaxy surely by now understand how serious the supporters are, with the specter of empty or LAFC-filled stands looming for its Rose Bowl season debut.
The supporters have to wage a protest/boycott not only against their club, but a war against their better instincts, hearts, and minds.
First Impressions After the Galaxy’s Off-Season Instability
This Saturday’s first preseason game at home against NYCFC should be interesting.
Fans will get an opportunity to see the kind of product the Galaxy put on the field. They’ll also get to gauge the impact of new signings. The club will get to see firsthand just how far-sweeping the boycott and discontent really are by attendance and atmosphere.
It might help move the needle and prompt both sides to negotiate and find a good compromise for all that will end peacefully.
Galaxy supporters deserve a club they can be proud of. And in this situation, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to take action. But they all agreed, that action was necessary after the Galaxy’s off-season instability.
One thing is for sure, in the fight between a Galaxy supporter’s heart and mind, no one really wins.