Galaxy News

Meet Ryo Fujii: The Next Up-And-Comer For LA Galaxy II

By Jo-Ryan Salazar
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Mar 6, 2015; Carson, CA, USA; The Chicago Fire and Los Angeles Galaxy players walk onto the field with young fans prior to their game at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday morning on The View From Avalon, your one-stop Los Angeles Galaxy news source on the FanSided Network. Ryo Fujii, a former Galaxy Academy product, is now with LA Galaxy II and as a result of the deal, he will be on track to continue his education at Cal State Dominguez Hills after one season at UC Santa Barbara. Goalkeeper Eric Lopez will also get the benefit of continuing education at CSUDH following a stint with the US Soccer Residency Program.

“This is the best of both worlds. Players are in a real professional environment and they can also further their education,” Los Angeles Galaxy Technical Director Jovan Kirovski told LAGalaxy.com’s Adam Serrano. “Overall, we want intelligence. We want players who are intelligent on the field as well as off of the field.

“We’re providing something that is different than what they offer in Europe or anywhere else because of the importance that we place on education in this country, and this offers players that [educational] opportunity if their professional career doesn’t work out.

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“It was a collaboration between myself, Galaxy Academy Director Peter Vagenas and club President Chris Klein. When we’re going after young kids who have full ride scholarships to places like UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley, we can tell them that we’re trying to develop professionals, but in order to compete with the schools, we wanted to provide education as well. That’s when it clicked that we needed to utilize our longstanding relationship with Cal State Dominguez Hills.”

At first, the plan was not impressive to the parents of Fujii, born in Hong Kong but a citizen of the U.S. since age five. However, when the plan was laid out, the wheels were set in motion. Lee Hancock, an associate professor of kinesiology at Cal State Dominguez Hills, has been hired as a personal counselor for Ryo Fujii.

“We’d been monitoring him for a long time. We knew that he has real potential to be a very good professional,” Kirovski added. “It was very important for his parents for him to further his schooling, but the kid knows what it takes to be a pro soccer player, and that’s being in an environment suitable to become a professional. At the end of the day, his family trusts us and has total faith in what we’re doing.”

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  • “What we’re doing is we’re basically creating our own college program,” said Hancock. “The [Galaxy] have had their eye on how to bring young men from college into their teams, and keep them in college. As a club, the Galaxy have a goal of developing the whole person, and if you can see that in some of the great people that they have had like Landon Donovan, Juninho and A.J. DeLaGarza.

    “To see the Galaxy make this commitment to these young men is a totally new way to move professionals along on this career path. They didn’t have to give these kids scholarships, and while they’re definitely a tool to entice a player to join the Galaxy, they’re showing that they want to invest [in the player], and this is what we’ll do to do that. That’s a bold step because it truly does change the game. It provides an opportunity to get really bright young men into a professional environment and allows them to continue their schooling.”

    “This is so convenient because Cal State Dominguez Hills is so close to the stadium and I’m able to go to my classes directly from practice,” said Fujii of the deal. “I just bring my backpack to practice, shower after training, and head to class.

    “This is one of the big reasons that I chose this path because the Galaxy wanted me not only to have a chance to face better competition, but also saw the positive in me finishing school. It was a win-win situation.”

    You might say that this prospect plays for the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros in a way. Sort of. But it’s good to know that young Ryo Fujii is ready to not only be a profession on the field, but off the field as well. Well done, that man. Ryo Fujii, The View From Avalon salutes you! *salutes*

    Moving on to first team news, Mika Vayrynen that Los Angeles Galaxy manager Bruce Arena needs to make the midfield a consistent midfield, not only in terms of quality, but in terms of continuity. Do not be surprised if Vayrynen starts this Saturday against the Houston Dynamo.

    “I felt pretty good. It was nice to come on [against Portland] and get the half an hour [of action],” Vayrynen told Serrano. “I missed all of the preseason so I still need to get my fitness up. That only comes with games though. … I think my fitness is getting better and hopefully I keep getting more games and that goes up.

    “We have good players in the midfield whether it’s Juninho, Kenney Walker or Baggio Husidic. All of the guys can play football and have good passing [ability]. It’s always easy to play with good players.”

    Indeed, Mika, indeed. For it is quality players that makes a quality team. As for Charlie Rugg, his quality will need some work. Rugg has been loaned off to Indy Eleven for the 2015 North American Soccer League season. Meanwhile, going back to Galaxy II news, Jaime Villareal is poised to emerge out the shadow of big brother Jose and should get the start this Sunday against Real Monarchs SLC.

    “I think I’m the better PK shooter,” Jaime told LAGalaxy.com’s Larry Morgan when compared to Jose. “I have the upper hand. Maybe free kicks he has the upper hand, but PK’s I think I have it. We’ll have to see, you know?

    “The dream is to play together and let mom and dad experience that. Hopefully one day we can play on the same team like we’ve done before. It will be the best thing to happen to us.”

    “Jose is one of those guys that has the ability to make great plays,” Galaxy II head coach Curt Onalfo said. “Not that Jaime doesn’t. He does, but Jaime is just more of a consistent all-around good player whereas Jose has a little bit more attacking traits.”

    “There’s no better thing for a brother to see his own brother be successful,” Jaime added. “I know he’s worked hard every year. I think I am, too.

    “We’re both competitive. Right now he has the upper hand. Hopefully I can bounce back and be the better one again.”

    Watch out, MLS. The Super Villareal Bros. are coming. Eat your heart out, Mario.

    Keep it here on The View From Avalon for more Los Angeles Galaxy II and Los Angeles Galaxy news and current events.

    Next: Referees Announced For Week 3 of 2015 MLS Season

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