For Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy, A.J. DeLaGarza’s return to first team practice was a breath of fresh air. A breath of fresh air that was days in the making. A breath of fresh air that was weeks in the making. A breath of fresh air that was days, weeks and months in the making. You get the picture.
The objective for the University of Maryland product is to keep on keepin’ on, and that’s by becoming a leader on the back line and beyond. Straightforward? No, more like staying humble.
“You always want to be on the field as a professional athlete,” DeLaGarza told LAGalaxy.com’s Larry Morgan. “You come out here every single day just to be in those big games. To not be there was obviously disappointing.
“But at the same time our team got the job done. I got my second ring, so I can’t complain too much. I’m confident. I feel good, though. I feel ready for another long season. This is the year I’m supposed to be in my prime now and I’ve got to be a leader on this team, more so than last year.
“After that start we had last year, I think I put a lot of that on my shoulders because a lot was expected out of me. This year it’s the same thing. Hopefully we start out better.”
DeLaGarza and Brian Perk, former teammates of Robbie Rogers, are in solidarity with Rogers’ decision to step away from the game after coming out of the closet at the age of 25.
“He is one of the nicest kids that I’ve ever met. He’s a great player and coming out is brave of him,” said DeLaGarza to LAGalaxy.com’s Adam Serrano. “To live like that for however long that he’s known that has sure been tough, but he’s happy now and we’re all happy for him. All the support that he’s gotten is great and it’s going to make it that much easier on him.
“In college, he was one of the best players that I ever played with. The things that he can do with the ball are just amazing and he’s had good years in Europe and MLS and is one of the best players that I’ve ever played with.”
“He was a great soccer player and a good guy. It’s really disappointing because he’s right in the prime of his career by playing at Leeds and I think that we’d like to have him here,” added Perk. “Regardless of his personal preferences, as the player that I knew then we’d love to have him here.
“Maybe in some locker rooms would people be treated differently, but I don’t think that he would here. I consider Robbie a friend and I don’t care what he does in his private life.”
Andy Riemer is a midfielder who was off the radar when the Galaxy selected him in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft. However, Riemer’s connections to Galaxy assistant manager Curt Onalfo were instrumental in getting his big break playing for a big club in MLS.
“He came out and lived in L.A. for the last two summers and played [with the PDL’s Orange County Blue Star] then the infrequent times that we had reserve team training, we’d invite him out to that,” Onalfo told Serrano. “At one of those sessions, Bruce [Arena] was there and he made a positive impression. His biggest strength is his determination and work ethic and he’s just improved every year.
“Basically, his determination and desire is to become a professional player. From the two years that I really got to see him in the summer until now and watching him and scouting him in college, you can see that he’s progressed tremendously and getting him in an environment will only contribute to his development.”
In Galaxy Academy News, Under-14s members Ateno Ajeakwa, Erik Lopez and Jesus Nunez and Under-13s member Jose Ortiz were called into camp for the USA Under-14 Boys’ National Team which will take place at the Home Depot Center Feb. 16-24.
Here’s a schedule of Galaxy Academy action.
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
LA Galaxy U-18’s vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC Saturday, February 16
Game will be played at South Surrey Athletic Park – Field 10 at 12 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-16’s vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC Saturday, February 16
Game will be played at South Surrey Athletic Park – Field 10 at 2:30 p.m.
LA Galaxy U-18’s vs. Crossfire Premier Sunday, February 17
Game will be played at Redmond High School Stadium at 11 a.m.
LA Galaxy U-16’s vs. Crossfire Premier Sunday, February 17
Game will be played at Redmond High School Stadium at 1:30 p.m.
Times and locations for all games are correct as of Friday, February 15.