LA Galaxy could lose two Designated Players: who will replace them?
Douglas Costa will not have his Galaxy contract extended and the future of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández is still unclear.
It looks set to be a busy winter for LA Galaxy after missing out on the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.
Greg Vanney’s team finished the season eight points adrift of the playoff places in the West, even with the newly-expanded post-season format. Big change is needed for the five-time MLS Cup winners and there looks set to big outgoings this winter.
Two Designated Players - Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández and Douglas Costa - are out of contract at the end of the 2023 season and neither have been offered a new contract by the club. Costa has already confirmed his exit and the lack of movement on Chicharito’s new contract, combined with his advancing age and existing injury, suggest that the Galaxy will soon have two Designated Player spots to fill.
Will Chicharito stay at LA Galaxy?
The Mexican legend has starred for the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid in Europe, but a serious knee injury has put his future in Los Angeles in doubt. He picked up a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in June and the club have waited to see how his recovery progresses before making a decision on his future.
The 35-year-old is out of contract at the end of 2023 and, as a Designated Player, is a high earner. He has said that he wants to continue with LA Galaxy if possible but at his advanced age the club may look to move on from Hernandez.
“I don’t know when I’m going to retire yet,” Chicharito said recently. “It could be at the end of this season or in two, three or five more years.”
He continued: “My wish is to finish my career in Los Angeles... If not, we’ll see where, but it depends on many factors.”
LA Galaxy set to move for two new DPs
The 2023 season was hugely disappointing for the Galaxy, who had gone into the campaign with realistic hopes of competing at the top of the Western Conference. It looks like Vanney will continue as head coach but he is under no illusions about the need for improvement.
“We’ve got to show real progress next season,” Vanney told reporters after the Dallas loss. “We need to put ourselves back into the discussion about being a capable championship-winning franchise.”
The winter months will be crucial as they look to rebuild an aging squad. Aiding that effort will be the fact that they will likely have two Designated Player places in the squad, assuming both Hernandez and Costa leave the club. Vanney is set to lead the search for reinforcements.
He told the LA Times: “When it comes to what our needs, what the profiles of those positions should look like, that’s my area. I’m the cook and I need the ingredients.”
“We’re scouting leads and we know profiles of players who already fit into our analytics, we know the ones that fit into our style of play.”
After conceding 27 goals in their final eight MLS fixtures of 2023, defensive improvement will surely be a key focus for the Galaxy. Maya Yoshida has immense experience but at 35years old needs a younger partner who can cover for his lack of pace.
The club have the option to renew the contract of Billy Sharp, who scored six goals in six matches after moving to MLS at the end of the summer. If he stays, the Galaxy may well look for a versatile younger forward to work alongside Sharp and replace the departing DPs.