For Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Hector Jimenez, the onus is on him to be on top of his game for manager Bruce Arena.
Jimenez is the only member of the SuperDraft/Supplemental Draft class of 2011 to remain with the club after Dan Keat, Ryan Thomas and Dustin McCarty left the club, Paolo Cardozo was traded in 2012 and Zach Johnson decided not to join the team in preseason in 2011.
For Jimenez, he was on and off, not finding the right amount of consistency to remain a starter. After the season, Jimenez elected to take a short break of two weeks before going through conditioning.
“Obviously there are situations you can’t control,” Jimenez said of his inconsistencies in 2012 to LAGalaxy.com’s Larry Morgan. “But I’m going to be ready and work as much as I can. I want to leave Bruce a tough decision and hopefully get a spot again.”
“I think he had his ups and downs,” Arena added. “He wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked him to be. This year he should be ready and more prepared to contribute.”
Another player that is hoping to contribute is rookie defender Kofi Opare, who comes to the team very well-traveled. Opare was born in Ghana, spend his childhood in South Africa then moved to the United States. Another thing about Opara, he’s a pretty good cricketer.
“Cricket was my first love. I did watch soccer and play it with my school team, but I didn’t take it as seriously as I took cricket,” said Opare to LAGalaxy.com’s Adam Serrano. “It wasn’t until I moved to the U.S. that I started focusing on soccer and playing it more. I loved it.
“Being around different countries helped shape my perspectives of different cultures and different religions. I also believe that it helped me understand the different struggles that people have been going through in all parts of the world and how we can all relate.”
Opare adds depth to a stacked backline that includes Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Tommy Meyer and Leonardo. Not a lot is expected from Opare this season…except a lot of learning the tricks of the trade.
“As a center back, I’m a good header of the ball, I love to tackle and get stuck in and I love to throw my body weight around, but I’m also not a defender who will use that as a first resort,” added Opare. “I try to use my ability to read the game and have that solve problems as opposed to being reactionary. I try to be cerebral as a center back and I try to keep the game as simple as possible.
“I’m just happy to be a part of the LA Galaxy. Now I just want to contribute any way that I can to this organization.”
Los Angeles open up their season on Mar. 3 against the Chicago Fire at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.