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Three Questions with LAG Confidential: LA Galaxy, strikers, and Landon Donovan

Randal Serr spoke to LA Galaxy blogger Josie Becker about today's match, focusing on strikers, Landon Donovan, and life in the post-Beckham era.

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1) Donovan seemed to have found his love for the game again in 2013 and had arguably the best season of his career. Do you foresee Donovan getting burned out with a demanding season that includes the CONCACAF Champions League, World Cup, and MLS season?

Players only get so many opportunities to completely burn out during their career, lest they carry the label of unreliable. Donovan pretty much used up all the days off he had left taking that month of and going to Cambodia. It's excellent as he did because clearly he found his love of the game again. Athletes take time off for injury without anyone batting an eye, even when there are delays in the recovery. Donovan took time off for mental health reasons, which unfortunately doesn't have the same allowance in society.

Those events you named will certainly take a physical toll, but much is being done to balance out the schedule. The Galaxy moved their second match so the double legged CCL tie doesn't have a match in between. The World Cup will be a strain, but the change of scenery could also be refreshing in the middle of a long MLS season.

2) The Galaxy have added a couple of forwards during the offseason. How will these additions help the Galaxy that already had a very talented forward corps?

I'm going to freely admit that this idea came from MLS Analyst Matt Doyle who has been writing excellent MLS previews, but it's something I should have noticed last year. Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane got a great reputation for working well together, to the point that Galaxy marketing was selling the gaudy number of goals they produced. This pasted over two things: that no one else was contributing goals, and that there was a way to beat the partnership.

Keane and Donovan liked to work through the middle, and the teams that shut LA down last season learned to use zonal marking instead of playing the man. Especially when combined with numbers behind the ball, Donovan and Keane simply couldn't find the space to work and since LA didn't have a wide player who could get balls in like David Beckham nor a target for such long balls like Edson Buddle was at one time, there was no counter for LA when they came up against this wall.

The target forwards make it such that there is someone coming in behind the back line with a dangerous head and foot. This is also why the Galaxy added Ishizaki, they need someone to send balls in if Robbie Rogers can't stay healthy.

The forwards LA used last season were all very young, and movement away from the ball is something veterans tend to do better.

3) Ever since losing Beckham to retirement, how has the style and talent changed on the field? Did losing Beckham drop the overall level of quality?

There's only one David Beckham. It's what the chant says anyway, and just by stepping on the field he made defenses react to the various ways he can come through. Last season what LA realized more than anything is replacing Beckham simply isn't an option. Juninho can occasionally replace Beckham's ability to shoot from distance and Rogers can take a solid corner and send in crosses, but there isn't one guy with Beckham's skill set.

Outside of Beckham, the principles are all still there so the quality level is simply minus one David Beckham. His departure didn't drain away the talent of the other players out there, the same way that his arrival didn't give the Galaxy team he joined magical boosts in ability.

I think it's difficult to know how the departure of a player like that will affect a team until actually playing through it. LA's style of play has changed, it's much more about play on the ground and playing out of the defense then floating in crosses. What LA has needed is a wing player who will draw defenders out again the way Beckham did. Whether or not Zardes, Rogers, or Ishizaki can be that player could be what the entire Galaxy season hinges on.