The Portland Timbers’ preseason is set to wrap up with tonight’s match against the LA Galaxy, a side that have undergone significant changes since the last time we saw them. To get the low-down on LA and just what is going on with the side we talked with LAG Confidential writer Mike Gray.
On a scale of one to ten, how strange is it to be entering the season without Bruce Arena at the helm? What will change, what won't, and what should we expect to see from Curt Onalfo?
Interesting. I'd say an eight. That being said...
Losing Bruce Arena to the U.S. National Team was a shock, but its been almost a decade with Bruce serving double duties as the head coach and general manager. Arena's record speaks for itself, but sometimes a change of pace is necessary.
The fanbase is divided on the hiring of Curt Onalfo, with opinions ranging from cautious optimism to doom and gloom, but the move is nonetheless a breath of fresh air. The atmosphere at training has changed: Curt doesn't run quite as tight a ship as Bruce, however the players seem to be more relaxed and at ease. Defining LA's style of play will require more viewings, as we just haven't seen a lot of the Galaxy offense so far.
Same set of questions as No. 1, but "Robbie Keane" instead of "Bruce Arena".
Parting ways with Robbie Keane was easier, since we all saw it coming. Like Arena, Keane has a body of work that ensures will he goes down as one of the all-time MLS greats, but it was evident last year Robbie had neither the fitness nor the finishing to command a Designated Player salary.
The Galaxy have made a handful of interesting acquisitions over this offseason, but still only have 24 of their 28 roster spots filled. How close is this Galaxy team to being the final product and what holes are there in the lineup that still need filling?
This Galaxy team isn't close to being finished. Giovani dos Santos has yet to be integrated into the new attack, Romain Alessandrini has been in Los Angeles a week, Gyasi Zardes is waiting for his knee to heel, Robbie Rogers has a mysterious nerve problem with no timetable to return, and now Ashley Cole is injured. Perhaps LA shouldn't have traded AJ DeLaGarza?
On the positive side, our new #6 signing Joao Pedro has been impressive, Jack McBean looks sharp coming off a stint with League One's Coventry City, and it appears Jermaine Jones still has something left in the tank.
While the kids have gotten plenty of time in preseason, LA is overall a mystery. Hopefully we learn more with tonight's friendly.