If the Galaxy had seemed a little stale under now-departed coach Bruce Arena over the past couple of seasons, successor Curt Onalfo is poised to promote to MLS the fresher, younger group he has nurtured the past few seasons at Los Dos.

With the high-priced likes of Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane, A.J. DeLaGarza, Alan Gordon, Leonardo, Landon Donovan, Jeff Larentowicz and Mike Magee all gone in the Galaxy’s biggest offseason shake-up in a decade, Onalfo is remaking the senior squad by tapping the club’s youth academy to an unprecedented extent.

The retooled Galaxy signed a new designated player this week, albeit one few fans will have ever heard of — French midfielder Romain Alessandrini. They also previously announced the acquisitions of Portuguese midfielder Joao Pedro and feisty national team veteran Jermaine Jones.

But aside from the 35-year-old Jones, who is guaranteed to bring some bite to what will be an almost completely new midfield, those signings — Alessandrini is in his prime at age 27 and Pedro is just 23 — telegraph a move away from spending big bucks for big names under a much younger management team.

And that team appears ready to harvest the crop of youngsters the Galaxy has spent the past few years carefully cultivating.

“We have on paper a starting 11 that’s going to be outstanding,” Onalfo said this week. “We have a lot of depth in every position. And in a lot of cases, a player who is younger and has something to prove. And that’s a powerful thing. I don’t really care about the age.

“At the end of the day, it’s ‘Are they ready to do it?’” he added. “And they are. And that’s all that matters. Some of them just need opportunity. It’s going to make for a hungry team.”

That would include attacking players like 22-year-olds Ariel Lassiter and Jack McBean, 23-year-old Jose Villarreal and 20-year-old Bradford Jamieson IV.

These are not unfamiliar names to Galaxy fans, of course.

But many of the former bit players will be called upon to play larger roles than ever before.

“Those guys have scored more than 50 goals for me over the last few years,” Onalfo said. “The challenge for them, is to be doing it at a faster, quicker, higher level. But I believe in them. So when they’re called upon, they’ll be ready to contribute in that manner.”


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There are a few returning veterans, of course, notably Dutch defender Jelle Van Damme and Mexican playmaker Giovani dos Santos.

Van Damme, the 33-year-old reigning MLS Defender of the Year, was rewarded Wednesday with a contract extension and a raise when he became the club’s third designated player on the roster.

For all the young names, the Galaxy will likely revolve around the 27-year-old dos Santos, whom Arena urged last year to make this team his own.

Now the club has essentially doubled down on him in the wake of a season that saw Dos Santos grab a career-high 18 goals and 18 assists.

“It’s fair to say that Gio is going to be a huge part of our attack and how we play,” Onalfo said. “He just came off a very successful season and I believe in him; I think he’s a world-class player and a top-notch person, so he has all the attributes to have a better season than he did last year.”

The club’s youngsters and Dos Santos aren’t the only ones with something to prove starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday against Club Tijuana in Carson in the opening preseason game.

So arguably does Onalfo, who had aborted and largely undistinguished head coaching stints with two MLS teams over the course of three years about a decade ago, but has now accumulated 17 years of coaching experience.

“I’m 10 times the coach I was 10 years ago,” he said.”You can’t replace experience.”

For more local soccer news, read the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer.



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