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    Galaxy excited to start over after a disappointing 2023
    • January 19, 2024

    CARSON — After one of the worst seasons in club history, the Galaxy kicked off its preseason this week, hoping the only place to go is upward.

    The Galaxy finished in 13th place in the Western Conference, missing the playoffs for fifth time in the past seven seasons.

    “After last year, we all have a little chip on our shoulder,” Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado said Thursday. “We’re all excited to get back and turn things around. I’m excited and everyone is excited to get going again.”

    While the regular-season opener is a little more than a month away – Feb. 25 against Inter Miami CF – the first preseason game is Jan. 27. There are still pieces to be added and players to arrive.

    “I feel good about what we’re working toward,” Galaxy coach Greg Vanney said. “We have some guys still recovering, in the final stages of recovering from some issues from last season, we have players still to arrive, we’re still not quite whole yet as it comes to preparing for the season, but I’m excited about the group we have.

    “I think we’re going to be more dynamic, we’re going to be more active, looking forward to it and the sooner we can get everybody in, the more we can start to really get on the same page, which is going to be a key part of this as well.”

    The Galaxy is closing in on additions that should bolster the attack. First is Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Pec from Vasco da Gama. Pec, 22, scored 14 goals with five assists across all competitions last season. The Galaxy has also been linked with Ghanian winger Joseph Paintsil. In the past two seasons with Genk in the Belgian Pro League, he’s scored 23 goals with 15 assists.

    Galaxy general manager Will Kuntz confirmed there have been no conversations with Carlos Vela, who is a free agent after playing at LAFC. As usual, the Galaxy has been linked with several players from Europe.

    “Everybody knows the Galaxy. I think the club’s history speaks for itself, our history of players is its own recruiting job and Southern California. I’m really just the guy who maybe opens up a Powerpoint or a video presentation,” Kuntz said. “Selling them on our vision, obviously, this is a very ambitious club. I think it really resonates with players that they have an opportunity to come here and help us get back to those lofty heights that we once occupied.”

    The first challenge facing the Galaxy will be rebuilding a defensive presence. The club allowed 67 goals last season. Defender Martin Caceres is nearing a return after missing the majority of last season with an avulsion fracture in his left knee, free agent John Nelson joins on a two-year contract and the team added Japanese defender Miki Yamane to a three-year contract.

    Gaston Brugman (torn meniscus) is also returning, which will help shore up the midfield.

    “It wasn’t the season we wanted, huge disappointment,” center back Maya Yoshida said. “We need to come back as quick as possible. We need to prepare well. It’s a big season ahead for me and the team as well.”

    Two of the Galaxy’s three Designated Player spots are open with the departures of Douglas Costa and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Riqui Puig, the third, has yet to arrive, but Vanney expects him in town next week.

    After arriving midseason in a trade with Austin FC, Diego Fagundez is looking to play a larger role this season.

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    “Last year was not what we wanted,” Fagundez said. “This year, we want to work on things that we weren’t good at last year. Now we can prepare in preseason and by the time season comes I think we will be ready to go.”

    “As an attacking player, I think he (Vanney) wants us to create chances and score goals and that’s what I’m going to try to do this year. My goal is to get to seven goals, seven assists or more, that’s been my goal for years and last year I didn’t get that and I was very disappointed about it. So this year is a new year. I’m coming in fresh and I’m going to try to do anything to help out this team.”

    ​ Orange County Register