Originally posted on Total MLS  |  Last updated 1/12/12

Is it March yet?

A question I’ve personally wanted to avoid asking since November 21th. It seems way too soon to be talking about next season, but here we are. The 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo cemented the 2010-11 Galaxy as one of the best teams in MLS history. It became the last game for several players in a Galaxy shirt. Gregg Berhalter retired after and a week later, Donovan Rickets was sent to Montreal on a trade for allocation money.  Most astute fans knew that Ricketts was surplus with Josh Saunders and Brian Perk and Berhalter’s retirement was announced well in advance. But as it tends to happen to LA sports teams, the breakup and heartache was forthcoming.

December saw David Beckham’s contract ran out and the “Who Wants to sign Becks” game begin in earnest. While Galaxy faithful has probably written off Beckham’s chances of returning to the Galaxy in advance, Juninho’s resigning with Sao Paulo FC probably hurt the most. A fan favorite, Juninho’s midfield presence allowed Beckham the ability to move and find targets without becoming the sole defensive focus. That and Juninho’s ability to put shots on target from distance really put a hole in the Galaxy midfield that can’t be filled by anyone in the draft pool or perhaps even in MLS.

While December’s losses jumbled the midfield, January brought a new year and a whole other set of complications for Bruce Arena and Company.  Whispers of a Omar Gonzalez loan came to fruition as he began training with Nuremburg of the German Bundesliga and came crashing down on the same day he arrived with a torn ACL suffered during the first training session with the new team.

So where does this leave the Galaxy in terms of draft needs? Beckham seems more and more likely to resign and we know the young players aren’t completely ready to solve the problem of the now-weakened midfield. The Galaxy hold the last picks in both rounds at #19 and #38. This year’s draft only has two rounds as round 3 and 4 were consolidated into the Supplemental Draft that will take place January 17th. With his previous track record of drafting young players (Omar Gonzalez and AJ De LA Garza in 2009) and being flexible enough to trade for veteran talent (Mike Magee in 2010), I would not be surprised to see another potential building block to come from this draft.

The Galaxy hold the 19 and 38th picks in this years draft. I personally expected Arena to go for 2 midfielders in the draft as Arena probably will want start-ready experience at the back and did pick up some players in the Re-Entry draft last year as far as depth goes. A player I do like at 19 is UCLA’s Andy Rose. Rose, who hails from Bristol, England, can player either as a midfielder or as a defender and had a decent showing in both of the Combine games playing midfield. He can take over Chris Birchall’s role, who is rumored be leaving LA for England and hopefully join the storied ranks of UCLA/Galaxy players such as Michael Stephens, Cobi Jones, and Frankie Hedjuk. Another good pickup at 19 would be Aldo Paniagua of Paraguay’s General Caballero. He seems a player in the vein of Miguel Lopez and has played in Paraguay’s U-20 team in the Sudamericano Championships.

The Galaxy’s pick at 38 will be the last pick of the draft and I expect that pick to be another midfielder. With Beckham slated to play in the Olympics and the midfield weak, I would be surprised if Arena goes any other way. If he somehow falls to 38th, I would pick up Alec Purdie from Indiana. The Hoosier seems attack-minded with 8 goals in his senior season, third on his team and fourth in the Big Ten conference. Alec seems a great alternative to Paolo Cardozo, who seems to be heading back to Qulmes.

All in all, draft previews are a crapshoot. Arena may trade picks, players may be taken earlier, etc etc. Just dont expect me to get this one right. That being said, Arena has a history of solid picks who tend to see playing time. This and the reserve league makes me feel more comfortable that the picks Arena select will have every opportunity to shine for the first team at some point this year

(image courtesy of lagalaxy.com)

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