There are footsteps the LA Galaxy are hearing down in Carson, CA, they belong to the expectations of their immediate future. 2017 may be a crossroads of sort for the LA Galaxy, they have a potential to continue being one of the elite teams in the MLS or will time and circumstances keep them in the middle of the pack.
Between 2009 and 2014 the Galaxy played in four MLS Cup games winning three, the team also took two Supporters Shields with the best overall record in MLS. During that time they integrated International greats David Beckham, Landon Donovan, and Robbie Keane with home grown all stars like Omar Gonzalez and Gyasi Zardes.
While winning titles and having superstars as the face of the franchise the team successfully advertised themselves the face of soccer in Los Angeles (and sometimes the MLS). The last two years the winning formula hasn’t been as successful, injuries to Keane and failed integration of other high profile players like England great Steven Gerrard didn’t bring any trophies home.
Now the Galaxy are left with a lot of questions after the architect of their latent dynasty Bruce Arena decided to help resurrect the U.S. Men’s National Team. 2017 starts with Keane retired, Donovan looking to play with rivals Real Salt Lake, and Zardes having to come back from a lengthy injury.
The Galaxy will also be integrating a new brain trust with the hiring of former Galaxy Peter Vagenas and the promotion of Galaxy II coach Curt Onalfo to head coach. Both have been long-term team employees and are schooled in Bruce Arena’s system, but it remains to be seen if they can go from behind the scenes to being in charge and find the success the team is used to.
2017 will also be the last year they can have Los Angeles all to themselves. Ever since the Chivas USA franchise folded in 2014 the Galaxy have been able to blitz Los Angeles with constant reminders that they are the only game in town. This has been embraced by a rabid fan base that has kept the Galaxy at or near the top of the attendance charts.
In 2018 there will be a new kid in town as Los Angeles Football Club will join MLS and they mean to put a footprint on the city and the league. A new downtown soccer-specific stadium close to a growing downtown LA entertainment corridor means LAFC will start off on the right foot in a new rivalry with the Galaxy. If the Galaxy expect that LAFC will be playing catch up they run the risk of under estimating the dynamic ownership which counts Magic Johnson as one of their owners.
2017 will be a very interesting year for the Galaxy as they try to hold on to their brand in LA as well as emerge from some uncertain times on the field.