When it was announced the morning of Oct. 14 that the Galaxy had acquired Chivas USA defender Sean Franklin in exchange for forward Ola Kamara, coach Sigi Schmid declared that he could field a championship-level team without a single meaningful veteran in the lineup.
Nearly six months later, Franklin has been hobbled by injuries and gone from being a lock to start in Saturday's All-Star Game to a spectator who's expected to return to the lineup this week after missing the past six games. With captain Giovani dos Santos now playing with the Mexican national team, the Galaxy have a grand total of one other senior player in Jelle Van Damme.
"I wasn't sure in terms of missing a big amount of games," Franklin said after being honored by the Galaxy on the field before the sold-out Galaxy match against the Columbus Crew on Saturday. "But at the same time, you've got to figure it out. It's just the story of the season. But I definitely think we're getting better."
Franklin is returning from a sore shoulder that kept him out of the Galaxy's season-opening loss to Chicago. It's believed he has a torn labrum and is playing with a brace on his right shoulder.
There have been times when Franklin looks like a leader on the field. At others, he hasn't made any discernible impact. He has yet to score a goal in his four games, and his eight assists are well off his career pace.
There have been other complaints about Franklin. He continually makes passes to his own teammates when outside of the box, and he has only two assists.
But last season, Franklin's erratic performances forced Schmid to make a tough choice. Either build around Franklin or trade him for a big-name veteran or work out a new contract with him. And he didn't want to take back an underperforming player.
The old-school teacher figured he would seek out Franklin in the off-season, but he didn't.
"I didn't think it was gonna happen," Franklin said of the move that took some of the wind out of Franklin's career, but also showed Schmid was willing to go to great lengths to make the Galaxy a contender.
Franklin acknowledged that he's not satisfied with his performance. He wants to be a leader, no matter how long he may be gone for. He's willing to do whatever he has to do to return as a contributor on a young team that hasn't yet reached full stride.
"I want to be a super-leader, no matter what role I'm in," he said. "I just want to show everybody what I can do. I haven't reached my potential as a leader."
Maybe Saturday was Franklin's last opportunity. Perhaps, he will be sitting in a comfy seat in the box next to Schmid when the team travels to Ohio on Monday.
Or maybe he'll be watching from the bench again.
Sondheimer writes on youth soccer and L.A. schools in Sports, Local and Community News. Follow him on Twitter at .