Last autumn, a month or two after Bruce Arena
had replaced Ruud Gullit
as Galaxy head coach, a colleague of mine talked about his recent trip to LA
and predicted darkly of its fate.
"A lot of the players don't like Bruce," he said, and forecast that by the end of the 2009 season, at the latest, he'd be gone.
"Well, then, he'll get rid of them. And he only has an 18-month contract, which takes him to the end of 2009 anyway. So that's not out of the question."
This doesn't imply that the
players traded, cut or released by Arena since he took over were jettisoned because they didn't like the coach, and the five waived yesterday -- goalkeeper Steve Cronin
, Mike Randolph
and Troy Roberts
, and forward Ely Allen
-- were anything more than players who simply didn't fit into his plans. They didn't play
much, if at all, in the preseason, and that's a reliable indicator.
Someone has to go so room can be made for the arrival of several veterans: goalie Donovan Ricketts
, forwards Mike Magee
and Jovan Kirovski
, and defender Todd Dunivant
as the March 2 roster and salary-cap compliance date draws near. Arena gave
Venezuelan defender Leo Bautista
a long look, but cut him loose a week ago in a previous wave of departures.
All this boosts the stock of rookies Omar Gonzalez
, and veteran Tony Sanneh
as candidates for back-line duty. With Landon Donovan
's return in two weeks looking more likely by the hour, what the Galaxy will look like
when the regular season begins is becoming clearer.
Of the five, Roberts had the longest tenure and the most experience, playing 61 games in four seasons after being drafted out of Cal in
2005. He played in nine of the 10 games following Arena's hiring and a career high 17 in 2008. Cronin also came to LA in 2005 and earned the starter's job for the 2008 season, but his 2.05
goals-allowed average and inconsistent handling in 22 games labeled him a probable departure even before a broken hand forced him to miss the last two months of the season.
came to LA from USL-1 Portland in September, 2006, and played 39 games at left mid and left back. Allen and McDonald were selected in the 2008 SuperDraft and played a combined 28 games while
battling various injuries.
Cronin has already reported to Portland; no word yet on whether Randolph is headed there, too. Might Roberts join his brother Jamil in San Jose?
leave the Galaxy with 27 players, three above the MLS limit of 24. Gonzalez and DeLaGarza aside, Arena has replaced youngsters with veterans, so as to win now and leave the future for later.