Even by Major League Soccer standards, the Los Angeles Galaxy has a busy offseason ahead of them in the next few months
The Galaxy will have at least seven spots on their full roster to fill for next season. Hong Myung-Bo and Andreas Herzog have left the team via retirement, and Arturo Torres was selected by Chivas USA in the expansion draft. Add to the mix four more developmental players under new league squad rules, and the Galaxy will be extremely busy this offseason.
Add into the mix the potential departures of Ryan Suarez, Pete Vagenas, and Sasha Victorine-all out of contract-and Sampson may have the chance to overhaul his side fully this offseason in his own image. The head coach is set for a series of trips to Central and South America over the next few weeks.
“I am eagerly anticipating the chance to scout players in Central and South America,” said Sampson. “There will undoubtedly be a talented crop of players to watch and possibly pursue, that excites me a great deal.”
Sampson’s itinerary includes time in Argentina and Brazil, part of which will be spent with Sao Paulo – whom the Galaxy have ties with. Stops at Argentinean power River Plate and the NCAA College Cup final will follow in mid-December, followed by trips to Guatemala and Costa Rica, the latter of which he was for a short stint the national team head coach earlier this year. In January, Sampson has stops in Honduras and El Salvador planned.
“We have great flexibility in our roster with the retirement of Andreas Herzog and Hong Myung Bo,” said Galaxy president and general manager Doug Hamilton.
“Steve will look to improve our team by acquiring players from clubs throughout Central and South America with a rich tradition of developing talent.”
“Our coaching staff’s trip to a Sao Paulo a year ago gave us our first look at Marcelo Saragosa, who went on to be one of our most consistent performers in 2004. We hope this year’s trip uncovers a similar diamond.”
There are several positions Sampson needs to fill, the greatest of which perhaps could be a strike partner to Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz is perhaps coming off his worst season in MLS, albeit one in which the Guatemalan scored 11 goals in 20 matches. Ruiz will be lost to the Galaxy for a good part of 2005 due to World Cup qualifying matches, so Sampson must find depth at striker beyond late season addition Alan Gordon.
Jovan Kirovski split time in 2004 between striker and attacking midfielder, and could see a lot more time as the latter next season if Sampson sticks to a lone striker formation. Midfield is another need for the Galaxy, especially in the absence of Herzog and Torres. Cobi Jones will be 35 during the new season, and his replacement must begin to be nurtured. Perhaps 2005 will be the season that youth international star Guillermo Gonzalez strides into the forefront for the Galaxy.
The Galaxy has trained this and last week in advance of Friday’s friendly against Mexican side Necaxa at the Home Depot Center. Sampson will be absent
for the match due to his scouting trip.
Original Article written by Aris Ohanessian