The Galaxy officially opens its preseason camp today at Home Depot Center. The club began welcoming back players two days ago but today will be the first on-the-field session of 2009.
The club's two biggest weapons won't be anywhere near the training field, of course, as Landon Donovan and David Beckham are off in Germany and Italy, respectively. Both are at this point expected back sometime in early March.
Until then, the rest of the squad will try and start building some cohesion and an understanding with each other. There is a lot of work to be done, work that needs to be done to improve the league's worst defense and help the Galaxy try to reach the playoffs and snap their skid of three consecutive postseason absences.
Here is the preseason roster:
Goalkeepers: Steve Cronin, Donovan Ricketts, Josh Wicks.
Defenders: Vardan Adzemian, Leo Bautista, A.J. DeLaGarza, Sean Franklin, Michael Gavin, Omar Gonzalez, Brandon McDonald, Mike Randolph, Troy Roberts, Tony Sanneh, Julian Valentin.
Midfielders: Ely Allen, David Beckham, Josh Boateng, Leonard Griffin, Chris Klein, Dema Kovalenko, Eddie Lewis, Stefani Miglioranzi, Mike Munoz, Kyle Patterson, Josh Tudela.
Forwards: Tristan Bowen, Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, Alan Gordon, Bryan Jordan, Jovan Kirovski, Mike Magee, Israel Sesay
Ricketts enters the preseason as the number one goalkeeper. Cronin and Wicks had their chances a year ago and each left plenty of room for improvement.
Defensively, there are many question marks and the preseason will help sort out those questions. How will central defense shake out? Does Sanneh have anything left? How will the new kids - Gonzalez, De la Garza - live up to their high expectations? Also, Franklin was injured during US national team camp; his health may be an issue in the early part of the preseason, and if it lingers too long it could affect the start of the season.
The midfield has quite a bit of experience with Klein, Kovalenko and Lewis. Each is a little long in the tooth so players like Allen and McDonald (though he's listed as a defender) need to continue to develop to provide capable support.
Up top, Magee and Kirovski stand to get a chance at some playing time. Buddle seems set at one forward position but with Donovan facing time away for qualifiers, Gold Cup and Confederations Cup - if he comes back at all - the need for quality forwards is present. With Gordon also in the mix, the club seems to have four forwards capable of playing, though there are question marks that need answering.