What Martin Caceres brings the LA Galaxy’s playoff push

Martin Caceres - Galaxy

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Martin Caceres - Galaxy

The LA Galaxy’s summer transfer window went just as head coach Greg Vanney hoped, capped by Wednesday’s news of signing veteran Uruguay international defender Martin Caceres on a free transfer.

The 35-year-old, who’s a strong candidate to represent La Celeste at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in three months, follows the arrivals of Gaston Brugman (from Italy’s Parma) and Riqui Puig (from Spain’s FC Barcelona) in midfield.

Consider all the boxes checked.

“I didn’t get into the nuts and bolts,” Vanney said, “but If I were to tell you the three things, it would have been a defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder and a leadership guy at the back with experience and presence and know-how to help to solidify our group and maybe bring a little bit more confidence to each guy around him.

“So if I was writing a script, these would be the three positions and these are all guys who bring a lot of quality.”

On paper, Caceres becomes one of MLS’s most-experienced defenders alongside LAFC’s Giorgio Chiellini, Toronto FC’s Domenico Criscito and Charlotte FC’s Christian Fuchs – the former two of whom also joined the league this summer.

He’s played in three World Cups for Uruguay and accrued 112 caps, plus has played in over 350 club matches during a 15-year professional career that includes time at Juventus in Serie A, Southampton in the Premier League, Barcelona in LaLiga and more. His most recent season was split between Levante in LaLiga and Cagliari in Serie A before going out of contract.

Caceres doesn’t take this next step lightly, either.

“When a player arrives at a club like the Galaxy, there’s a lot of expectations behind that,” said Caceres, who’s signed through the end of 2022 with an option for 2023. “I’m here to help the best we can and I know there’s not many games [left] in the league. But I’m going to give it my all.”

The defender joins as LA have nine games left in their 2022 campaign, occupying the Western Conference’s seventh-and-final Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot entering a Week 27 match at the New England Revolution on Sunday (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). Once Caceres’ visa gets approved, Vanney said he’s “ready to go.”

Vanney specified that Caceres could play almost anywhere across the backline and in multiple systems. Wherever Caceres slots in, he’ll be expected to put out defensive fires before they arise in the first place.

“I feel like our group could use some leadership, some vocal presence, some nasty if you will, some tackling, some problem-solving back there,” Vanney said. “Somebody who has that experience, has seen a lot of different things, played in different shapes, feels confident and comfortable in adapting inside of the game and communicating to the players around him.”

Caceres hopes this MLS chapter boosts his candidacy to make Uruguay’s 26-man World Cup roster, impressing manager Diego Alonso (formerly in charge of Inter Miami CF) before November’s big tournament. The five-time MLS Cup champions are also looking to snap a skid of one playoff appearance from 2017-21, believing Caceres shores up a defensive unit that’s midtable in goals allowed (37).

“Sometimes for these deals to fall into place, a lot of things have to work out,” Vanney said. “We’re at the tail-end of a budget, how much space we really have – a lot of things have to fall together.

“He’s in a position where he also is looking for a good, competitive place to continue to prepare himself for the World Cup but also he sees the Galaxy as a club that he can come in and try to help us to be successful and to win. These pieces have to fit together for it to get across the line and fortunately it did. For us, we believe it’s a great add.”

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What Martin Caceres brings the LA Galaxy’s playoff push

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