By Elizabeth Adams
The 1990’s marked a new era for U.S. soccer after the country’s successful bid to host the 1994 World Cup. From that sparked the birth of a new home for competitive soccer; Major League Soccer (MLS). With a challenging start, financial insecurity, and developing a system unlike any other soccer league, it was unsure if the league, or any of its 10 teams, would survive.
One of those teams being the Los Angeles Galaxy. Founded in 1994 by Anschutz Entertainment Group, and named after its star-studded Los Angeles surroundings, they too had high hopes for U.S. soccer but started out on rocky ground. In 1996 the team began playing at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA and fell short of an MLS title their first few years despite continuously performing well in the league’s Western Conference.
Despite the rough start both the team and the league continued to grow. The Galaxy found success with players like Cobi Jones, Alexi Lalas, and Carlos Ruíz and in 2002 the Galaxy won their first MLS Cup by defeating the New England Revolution 1-0.
The club would also pick up two Supporter Shield titles in 1998 and 2002.
In 2003 the team would bring their silverware to their new and permanent home; the Home Depot Center, located in Carson, CA, but their previous MLS success seemed to have been “misplaced” in the move.
In 2005 the team would once again find their feet and pick up their second MLS title.
In 2007 the club would shock the world and redefine the status of the league by completing one of the biggest signings, David Beckham, and proving the team was good enough to compete with other international clubs. Beckham’s fame brought in a whole new demographic of fans who would later see the team pick up two more Supporter Shield titles and see the club, once again, make history as Beckham and company would go on to win back to back titles in 2011 and 2012.
With the turn of the decade and the back to back title wins the Los Angeles club began to seem out of reach for the rest of the 20 teams in the league. With players like Beckham, a handful of international stars (like Robbie Keane and Jaime Penedo), and many promising Southern California natives (Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes) it seemed inevitable that the team would once again make history by being the first team to win five MLS titles. In 2014 the Galaxy conquered that challenge and became the “first to five”.
However, following the big win in 2014, team captain, top scorer, and national team icon, Donovan, said goodbye to the LA Galaxy, announcing his retirement from soccer. Not long after Keane, Penedo, Omar Gonzalez, many other prominent players and longtime manager Bruce Arena also said goodbye to the team falling short of the team’s new goal; the “race for seis”.
The team has since gone through a rebuilding period looking to find a new formula to regain their former glory. In recent years the team has gone on to sign Mexican international stars Giovani Dos Santos and Jonathan Dos Santos and another out of this world signing in Zlatan Ibrahimović, looking to once again make history.
Photos courtesy of LA Galaxy | Photo Illustration by Mercedes Del Real