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MLS 101: LA Galaxy Edition

The Galaxy are officially the laughingstock of MLS today. Despite receiving what I consider to be outright favoritism from the league (AEG basically stole Donovan for them, imagine the NFL taking Adrian Peterson and gifting him to the New York Giants), they finished with the league’s worst record last year. David Beckham has not been the savior of American soccer, as promised. But things have not always been so bleak in LA.

In fact, other than DC United, the Galaxy are probably the most successful MLS side ever. They have won two MLS Cups (2002, 2005), two Supporters Shields (1998, 2002) and two US Open Cups (2001, 2005). They are also the only team other than DC to win the CONCACAF Champion’s League. Their success was attributable to their great players.

The Gals’ historic Best XI would probably be one of the most gifted in the league. Cobi Jones, Paul Caliguiri, Jorge Campos, Kevin Hartman, Alexi Lalas, Clint Mathis, Carlos Ruiz, Eduardo Hurtado, Chris Albright, Ezra Hendrickson, not to mention Donovan, Becks and rising star Edson Buddle… the list goes on and on.

They had never missed the playoffs until three years ago, and now they’ve failed to qualify for three straight. How’d they fall so far so fast? Poor personnel decisions, that’s how. The Gals decided playing “sexy” soccer was more important than playing winning soccer. Sure, they still have the highest attendance in the league. But, if the “Beckham Bump” subsides and both he and Donovan flee to Europe, the Gals will be in deep trouble of losing their enormous fanbase. I don’t envy Bruce Arena’s job one bit.