To the rest of the world they may be the most recognisable club in the United States, but the LA Galaxy are in danger of being left behind by their Major League Soccer rivals.
Humbled 7-0 by Manchester United at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday night, they offered little fight, in stark contrast to Seattle Sounders FC's ferocious 3-3 draw with a Tottenham Hotspur side that finished above the Red Devils last term.
The problems are clear for all to see. Like his club, talisman Landon Donovan is surviving solely on reputation, a detail recognised by Jurgen Klinsmann, and while franchises across the division have been hunting the signatures of Clint Dempsey, David Villa, Kaka and Frank Lampard, Los Angeles have only recruited their own Omar Gonzalez as a Designated Player since 2011. In an increasingly strong Western Conference, they run the risk of missing out on the play-offs without serious improvement.
Rays of Hope
There are still positives to be found at the StubHub Center, with Robbie Keane continuing to find the net with some regularity, and Homegrown All-Star pick Gyasi Zardes progressing nicely. However, despite winning the MLS Cup only two years ago, the Galaxy recently required a eight-game unbeaten run just to avoid being cut adrift before the season's halfway mark.
Only a fool would write off the experience and winning mentality in the Californians' ranks, but their roster is in desperate need of a fresh face. Their back-to-back league successes were achieved with the world's most famous footballer, the division's best American and a proven goal-scorer, in David Beckham, Donovan and Keane. They can no longer boast the former two title winners.
LA had long been linked with the signing of Lampard, and yet he's now joined New York City FC, his transfer uncontested. Though Xavi Hernandez is still available, it remains to be seen how keen the Spaniard would be on enlisting for an outfit that are on the decline and could soon become MLS also-rans.
Before any player could be brought in, however, a DP slot would need to be cleared. Donovan may be past his best, but he's unlikely to accept a wage reduction, and the club wouldn't want to see a legendary Galactico line up against them. Keane retains a crucial role, netting 10 goals this season, leaving Gonzalez. The 25-year-old is a rare entity in being a defender of genuine international class that plies his trade in the States, however, the team excelled in his World Cup absence. The Texan's performances in Brazil will have attracted many suitors, and his departure has a sense of inevitability about it.
MLS success requires more than just big names, but this is a franchise that could use a lift.
If not Xavi, then Miroslav Klose. If not Klose, then Jermaine Jones. Whoever it is, Bruce Arena's men desperately need a shot in the arm.
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