GALAXY 2012: Key men on the field
MOST IMPORTANT FIGURE
There are two who stand out among many: David Beckham and Landon Donovan. Beckham is the engine, the deep-lying playmaker whose ability to serve a ball, any length, on a dime makes the attack go. That's hardly all he brings: His leadership and commitment to every phase of the game -- defending, too -- makes him pivotal to the Galaxy's success. Donovan, healthy after a injury-plagued second half of last season, is a lot like Beckham: He'll do whatever is needed to help the team. He could be a 20-goal forward (done that) or a linkman and provider (done that, too) and play anywhere among the front six.
ALL EYES ARE ON
A.J. DeLaGarza is the Galaxy's most versatile defender, and now he needs to become a leader in the back. With his former college teammate/roommate Omar Gonzalez, the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, sidelined because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, DeLaGarza must take on a lot more responsibility. He can't battle in the air like Gonzalez (5 feet 9 is not 6 feet 5), but he needs to shut down forwards and direct those around him.
We're convinced backup holding midfielder Dan Keat is a star in the making. Fiercely intelligent, with good touch, vision, ideas and workrate, the Ivy Leaguer from New Zealand is going to take a huge step forward as a sophomore, and not just on the reserve field. Another to watch: second-year winger Hector Jimenez.
Midfielder Marcelo Sarvas was brought in to replace Juninho, whom he is similar to -- but possessing better attacking skills. Juninho has returned, but there's more than enough minutes in central midfield for both Brazilians and Beckham (and Keat).
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR?
Top draft pick Tommy Meyer is going to get a real education in central defense -- and he'll probably get more opportunity than he would have were Gonzalez healthy. He matured during preseason and appears to have the necessary tools.