The MLS Players Association announced on Wednesday, July 20th that 36-year old winger Sacha Kljestan is a pending free agent for the LA Galaxy. The release also shows three other Galaxy players heading into the final club options on their contracts who are eligible for free agency.
To be eligible for MLS free agency, a player must be at least 24 years old and must have at least five years in the league.
This season, Kljestan has scored one goal and has added two assists across 333 minutes. He is also completing 87.3% of his passes, has made seven key passes, and has played ten accurate long balls. He has played in 14 matches on the season with one start.
Kljestan has become a key sub for the Galaxy and a bit of a fan favorite, and LA could elect to try to bring him back in that role. He could re-sign with the club, or sign elsewhere as a free agent. With Kljestan at 36 years old, retirement is always a definite possibility.
Kljestan has a cap-hit of just $84,000 this season (according to the MLSPA's salary guide). He signed with LA as a free agent back before the 2020 season. He has scored six goals across 60 appearances (22 starts) in his Galaxy career. In total, he has scored 44 career goals across a lengthy MLS career dating back to 2006.
Richard Sanchez, Jorge Villafana, and Eriq Zavaleta all have a club option this offseason which the Galaxy could decline and they become free agents or the Galaxy could pick up and they would then have one year remaining on their deals.
Villafana, a 32-year old defender, is the interesting player in this group in my opinion. He played pretty well last year for the Galaxy, and has a long history of contributing in MLS. However, he has missed this entire season with a knee injury (and was put on the season ending injury list earlier in the year). The injury is a major concern (especially at his age). His cap hit isn't exactly cheap either at $450,000. It will be a tough decision for LA to make about whether to bring him back or not.
I wouldn't be surprised if Zavaleta and Sanchez are let go, but we won't know for sure until after the season (and they could be kept as cheap depth pieces). With neither player playing much at all this season, LA could just decide to move on from the pair and use younger depth at those positions.
Zavaleta, a 29-year old centerback, has made just one appearances this season where he played 61 minutes in a start. He completed 90.6% of his passes in that match. The thing he has going for him is that his cap hit is just $84,000 this season.
Sanchez, a 28-year old goalkeeper, has yet to appear in a match this season as a reserve keeper behind entrenched starter Jonathan Bond. The thing Sanchez also has going for him is that he also has just that $84,000 cap hit for this season.
I believe it's important for LA that none of their major key contributors this season are on this list. While the Galaxy will obviously make several moves in the offseason, they won't really have to worry about trying to re-sign several of their major players. Really, the only choice the Galaxy will have to make is whether to bring back Villafana. Plus whether or not Kljestan will be re-signed (if he wants too).