'13 Season Preview: Three-peat in the cards for Galaxy?

1:06 PM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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Carson, CA (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Galaxy will be looking to make Major League Soccer history in 2013.

Los Angeles became just the third club to earn back-to-back MLS Cup titles after claiming its fourth championship in 2011 and following it up with more silverware in 2012.

But with a new season on the horizon, the Galaxy will try to accomplish what D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo could not in 1998 and 2008, respectively: Win a third successive league title.

The bulk of the team remains unchanged from last season, save for a couple of major pieces.

The biggest component missing is undoubtedly David Beckham. The English superstar brought his tenure in L.A. to a close by announcing that MLS Cup would be his final match with the Galaxy. He was able to make it a Hollywood ending as he put an exclamation point on an influential five-and-a-half-year stint with the club with a virtuoso performance in the title match, which Los Angeles won, 3-1.

Edson Buddle also departed, getting dealt to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for allocation money and a first-round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. It was Buddle's second stint with the Galaxy, but he was unable to match the glowing success he endured the first time around as he was overshadowed by Robbie Keane in 2012.

Last term marked Keane's first full season with the club, and the offseason appeared to pay major dividends. The Irishman led the Galaxy in scoring in 2012 with 16 goals, but his nine assists displayed his ability to set up his fellow attackers.

It will be interesting to see how Keane is able to perform in the coming season without the supreme service that Beckham provides on crosses and set- pieces.

Making matters worse for Keane and the rest of the Galaxy will be the absence of Landon Donovan at the start of the season.

In the midst of an extended leave of absence to recuperate from a lengthy MLS and U.S. national team season, Donovan announced recently that he will return to training with his Galaxy teammates at the end of March.

"After a series of collaborative discussions between Landon, his representative and our key club leaders, we have agreed to allow Landon to remain on an extended leave of absence and return to training with the team during the final week of March," Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. "We understand this arrangement is not ideal, but we are confident it will allow Landon the time he needs to be both mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming season. We remain focused on our preparation for the start of the 2013 season and look forward to Landon rejoining us next month."

It could be a pivotal absence for the Galaxy, but the organization is well- aware that no silverware is handed out in the first two months of the season. Just look to their 2012 campaign as proof.

2012 in Review: The Galaxy epitomized the cliche "It's not how you start but how you finish." Los Angeles began the season with a 3-8-2 record through its first 13 league games, a stunningly slow start from the 2011 MLS Cup champions. But the team's experience ultimately kicked in and the Galaxy righted the ship to comfortably finish the regular season fourth in the Western Conference with 54 points, 11 points clear of the fifth-place Vancouver Whitecaps and 15 points clear of sixth-place FC Dallas. Los Angeles hit its stride at the right time and got past the Whitecaps, the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC in the playoffs to seal a rematch of the 2011 MLS Cup against the Houston Dynamo. The Galaxy fell behind just before halftime in the title match but stormed back to repeat as champions in a 3-1 win, sending Beckham in story book fashion.

Additions: Colin Clark (M), Carlo Cudicini (GK).

Losses: Chad Barrett (F), David Beckham (M), Edson Buddle (F), Christian Wilhelmsson (M).

OUTLOOK: The Galaxy look quite content to implement the same formula that netted them a championship last season. With Donovan set to miss the beginning of the season, a slow start seems inevitable. But there is an undeniable level of quality within the Los Angeles squad and the team should qualify for the postseason with ease. And having gone through two straight title runs, the Galaxy's experience tells you that they will know how to turn it on when it matters most. They could very well make MLS history this year with the league's first three-peat.

The Sports Network

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