The LA Galaxy remain the biggest team in MLS. Those teams in the Pacific Northwest may have the fan support, but the Galaxy's trophy haul and star power in both recent and league history are the gold standard in MLS.
What will be interesting this year is to see how LA's project of trying to build an ad hoc international all-star team will work. Hello, Nigel de Jong, Ashley Cole and Jelle Van Damme to go with Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos. Goodbye, MLS Cup-winning fixtures Omar Gonzalez and Juninho. Will a rebuilt defense be able to support the attack and get back on the podium once again? If nothing else, it's probably never going to be dull in Southern California.
2015 Record 14-11-9, 5th place in Western Conference
2015 Playoffs Knockout Round
Key additions Ashley Cole, Jelle Van Damme, Nigel de Jong, Dan Kennedy
Key losses Juninho, Omar Gonzalez, Donovan Ricketts
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1) Dan Kennedy; Ashley Cole, A.J. DeLaGarza, Jelle Van Damme, Robbie Rogers; Nigel de Jong, Steven Gerrard; Giovani Dos Santos, Sebastian Lletget, Gyasi Zardes; Robbie Keane
A good case can be made for the Galaxy having the best all-around club in MLS the past several seasons. Star power? We've got that in spades. Trophies? Three MLS Cups in the past five years for us. Youth development? Our academy, reserve team and first team is stocked with promising young talent. Global recognition? You bet. All in all, the goal and payoff for the Galaxy is to always be at the forefront of the United States' soccer spectrum, while striving for excellence.
The performance of two key players -- Steven Gerrard and Giovani dos Santos. Coming off of a forgettable and sometimes regrettable 2015, both players have plenty to prove: this is Gerrard's last season and would be considered a tremendous failure short of anything but winning MLS Cup, and dos Santos, the young star brought in to replace Landon Donovan, must become one of the top players in the league to have any hope of a return to the Mexican national team.
The biggest threat to a successful season for LA is a lack of chemistry. Though the defense has been revamped with experienced stars Ashley Cole and Nigel de Jong, the attack, which never found a groove in 2015, is almost entirely the same as last year. On paper, LA has an enviable amount of talent, but goals have been elusive for the front unit. Can Gyasi Zardes recapture his touch from 2014? Will a move to wing, and the addition of de Jong as defensive midfielder free up Gio and Gerrard on the attacking side of the ball?
LA is the most star-studded team in MLS, with the likes of Robbie Keane, Gerrard, de Jong, and Cole, so a game against NYCFC and stars David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard is just short of an all-star game. Mark your calendars for Aug. 20 at Yankee Stadium.