LA Galaxy 2022 Player Postmortem: Derrick Williams

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John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran brought consistent presence to backline.

Derrick Williams returned for his second season with the LA Galaxy, and was once again a regular starter, until a newcomer took over in the final weeks.

The American-Irish player endured a difficult 2021 campaign, full of highs and lows, and while this season was far more consistent, featuring career highs for minutes played in a season and some spot action in the playoffs, his time in LA has now come to an end.

But rewinding back to the beginning first, Williams was primarily paired with Séga Coulibaly in central defense again. Williams’ rugged skills on the defensive side, paired with Coulibaly’s ability to play on the ball, looked like a good combination on paper, even if the results on the field in 2021 weren’t particularly impressive.

There was moderate improvement on the defense this year, the team allowing three fewer goals than the year before. Perhaps more importantly, the Galaxy seemed generally more competent in defense, with the likes of Williams and Coulibaly settled in California and MLS, and that helped provide a platform for the team pushing upfield.

Here are Williams’ competitive stats with LA in 2022:

The advanced stats come out pretty mixed for Williams, to be honest. ASA’s Goals+ stat, trying to grade the overall impact of every player on the field, put Williams at +1.17 for the regular season, good for fourth on the team overall.

In addition to his physical defensive play in the back, Williams was a surprising attacking weapon for the Galaxy, particularly on set-pieces. While he didn’t score a goal, his other attacking numbers were very high-level this year, per FBref.com’s scouting report graph.

FBref.com

However, in looking at Williams’ defensive advanced stats, the picture isn’t quite as rosy. Aside from a good mark in blocks, he’s in the bottom quartile in most other categories. Obviously defenders can have different skills and ways they defend — for example, some of the best center backs scarcely tackle, because their positioning is so good they don’t need to get stuck in — but this does point to a ceiling for Williams’ game in MLS.

As a result, and with D.C. United desperate for MLS-level bodies, the Galaxy traded him to the nation’s capital this offseason, in exchange for allocation money. I think playing for Wayne Rooney, assuming he stays there as head coach, is a good fit for player and team alike. I think he can do a job in this league, but with the Galaxy chasing contender status? It’s clear they needed to shake things up, again, this time from the Williams-Coulibaly partnership, and with Martín Cáceres essentially taking Williams’ spot in the LA lineup down the stretch, plus Williams counting as a domestic player, I think the Galaxy were content to move the defender.

So that does it for Williams’ time with the Galaxy, but we will likely see him again. I think he showed improvement in year two and his consistency was his best trait, but I also understand why LA wanted to make a change, too. It was a good run for Derrick Williams with the Galaxy, and best of luck to him in Washington and beyond.

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