GALAXY: Gonzalez replacement targeted?

The Galaxy might be chasing well-traveled defender Alex Bruce, currently with Leeds United, as they seek a replacement for injured Omar Gonzalez, Sky Sports reports.

L.A. “are in talks with Leeds over the availability” of Bruce, the British broadcaster reported on its website Tuesday, citing sources who “understand” such conversations are taking place.

The Galaxy, which began its preseason preparations Monday, are in dire need of a central defender who can step in for Gonzalez, Major League Soccer's Defender of the Year, who likely will miss most if not all of the 2012 MLS season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Jan. 5 at the start of a short-term loan deal to German club FC Nuremberg.

Galaxy coach/general manager Bruce Arena said Monday that finding a replacement for Gonzalez was a preseason focus.

“We have certain holes we have to solidify, so that will be part of the preseason strategy,” Arena said. Which holes? “Obviously, the center-back position.”

Bruce, 27, has played for four English clubs and been loaned to five more on six occasions since emerging from Blackburn's academy system in 2004. He began his first-team career with Blackburn, went to Birmingham City the following year, then spent five seasons at Ipswich Town before joining second-tier Leeds United in 2010. He has played for Oldham Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday, Tranmere Rovers, Leicester City and Huddersfield Town on loan deals.

The son of former Manchester United defender and former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has played just once for Leeds United this season and was sent to Huddersfield, where he started three games before Leeds manager Simon Grayson recalled him to provide backline depth.

The Galaxy does not comment on potential signings, but Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of club owners AEG, reported last week that David Beckham has been making calls to line up a center back who can star in MLS and doesn't require a Designated Player salary.

“He is out as we speak helping Bruce with a couple players we're trying to bring here,” Leiweke said following Thursday's news conference welcoming Beckham back to the club. “We're out of Designated Player slots, so we'll see how good a recruiter he is. Because they have to accept a salary that is not a Designated Player salary.

“He's helping us get better. He's the guy who helped me get [Irish striker] Robbie Keane. It took us one day to get Robbie Keane, 'cause David picked up the phone and recruited him.”

The Galaxy returns starting center back A.J. DeLaGarza, who was expected to move to right back this season, and Arena reported Monday that the loan deal with Sao Paulo for Leonardo would be extended for a third season. Leonardo started the first seven games in the middle for L.A. last season, then suffered torn knee ligaments, an injury he continues to rehabilitate. Arena said the Brazilian defender “should be able to play fully in April, we hope.”

Other candidates include re-entry pickup Andrew Boyens, who played last season for Chivas USA, draft picks Tommy Meyer and Bryan Gaul, and even defender/midfielder Sean Franklin (who played in the middle during his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign).

Bruce was born in England but has represented Ireland internationally and last year switched allegiances to Northern Ireland.