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2017 USL Preview: LA Galaxy II

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/21/17, 5:12PM EDT


After three successive postseason berths, Munoz leads squad into new era

Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC

The LA Galaxy II reached their third successive postseason in 2016 as the club continued to serve as the standard-bearer for MLS owned-and-operated teams in the USL. The offseason was a busy one, however, as more of the talent that drove the side forward last season earned a place on the Galaxy’s MLS roster, as did Head Coach Curt Onalfo, who took the reins after the departure of Bruce Arena to become the U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach. Former Galaxy Academy Coach Mike Munoz has taken up the position and will look to continue the side’s success as a number of new faces get their chance to shine.

Head Coach: Mike Munoz
Stadium: StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium
2016 results: 12-7-11, 47pts
2016 postseason: L 3-0 at Swope Park Rangers

Goalkeeper: The Galaxy II will enter the season with a new No. 1, with regular starter for the past two seasons Clement Diop now solidly in the frame for action with the Galaxy. Bennett Sneddon, who made five appearances a season ago, and U.S. U18 international Eric Lopez are both in the frame to claim the position, but they could also see competition from former Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jon Kempin, who signed with the Galaxy this offseason.

Defense: The Galaxy II made a big pick-up this offseason with the addition of former Orlando City SC Homegrown signing Tyler Turner, who ranked No. 4 on last year’s USL 20 Under 20. Turner and Josh Turnley give Los Dos two good fullbacks, but the team will need to contend with the departure of both Lee Nishanian (Harrisburg City Islanders) and Jeffrey Payeras, who recorded the majority of minutes at center back last year. U.S. U20 international Hugo Arellano is likely a candidate to join the club on loan from the Galaxy to accompany either Robert Castellanos or Cameroonian addition Jean Jospin Engola. 

Midfield: The Galaxy II have another 2016 USL 20 Under 20 member in their midfield, and it’s likely Ryo Fujii will be expected to take on a bigger role this season after recording three goals in 845 minutes of action last year. The club acquired Miguel Aguilar from D.C. United, who at 23 is currently the oldest member of the squad and should add some attacking verve out wide. The key for Munoz will be finding consistent replacements for Alejandro Covarrubias and Bryam Rebellon, both of whom recorded more than 1,500 minutes of action last year. Jaime Villarreal – who signed with the Galaxy this offseason – could return on loan after leading the team in minutes last year.

Forward: The Galaxy II have had a standout striker lead them in each of their first three seasons, and have candidates to carry that mantle forward in former Academy standouts Adonis Amaya and Ethan Zubak. A former U.S. Soccer Development Academy West Player of the Year, Amaya stepped up his production in 2016 as he recorded four goals and five assists in just under 1,000 minutes of action, while U.S. U19 international Zubak had two goals and one assist in his first professional season. Justin Dhillon also joined the squad this offseason, while the likes of 2016 USL 20 Under 20 selection Bradford Jamieson IV could also contribute to the side on loan from the Galaxy.

Photo courtesy Stephanie Romero / LA Galaxy II

Strengths: The Galaxy II’s attack has recorded at least 50 goals in two of its past three seasons as its speed and willingness to take chances in the final third consistently poses a threat to opposing defenses. The likes of Ethan Zubak and Adonis Amaya have the promise to continue that record should they get the service they need, and if players like Bradford Jamieson IV come available on loan, Los Dos should be well set in attack again.

Weaknesses: The gap left by the departure of Alejandro Covarrubias and Bryam Rebellon and the signing of Jaime Villarreal in the center of midfield is probably the biggest concern for Head Coach Mike Munoz as he takes charge this season. In a tough Western Conference, the Galaxy II will need to find the right replacements to help them maintain the tempo of games as they pursue a fourth consecutive postseason berth.

Key number: 8 – Eight players from the LA Galaxy II have signed MLS contracts with the Galaxy since the club joined the USL for the 2014 season. Seven of them have seen action in Major League Soccer so far this season.

Noteworthy matchups: The Galaxy II will be part of the USL Experience on April 1 as they visit San Antonio FC looking to reprise one of their more memorable victories of the 2016 season, and then three weeks later host the first edition of the I-405 Derby as Orange County SC visits StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium. The renewal of the rivalry between Los Dos and Sacramento Republic FC should also provide must-see viewing, with the sides set to meet in LA on June 25, and in Sacramento on September 16.

Coach’s view: “The first cycle of Galaxy II you could say has been completed. Curt [Onalfo] has done an amazing job with his staff on that project. You’re starting to see the fruits now with the first team. The plan now is to begin a second cycle of Galaxy II and hopefully invest two, three, four years for the next group coming through.” – LA Galaxy II Head Coach Mike Munoz

Current roster (updated: March 20, 2017):
Goalkeepers: Bennett Sneddon, Eric Lopez
Defenders: Robert Castellanos, Jean Jospin Engola, Tyler Turner, Josh Turnley
Midfielders: Miguel Aguilar, Ryo Fujii, Adrian Vera, Andre Ulrich Zanga
Forwards: Adonis Amaya, Justin Dhillon, Ethan Zubak

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