HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. –Rob Friend is hanging up his boots.
The little-used Canadian forward announced his retirement on Monday at the club’s MLS Cup championship rally in Hermosa Beach. Friend made just 12 appearances for the Galaxy in all competitions while tallying just one assist for the club after joining in January.
Friend’s injury troubles began in July following the club’s friendly with Manchester United in what he described as a “freak accident” that occurred when a ball struck him in the forehead during training when he wasn’t looking. Since the injury, which he believes was only made worse due to repeated head injuries during his decade-long career; Friend has tried to make a recovery, but fallen short each time.
“I made a few attempts at a comeback, but it’s my body telling me that I’ve taken one too many hits to the head. I’m still struggling with a few symptoms and a lot of headaches. It’s a combination of that it is not worth it to maybe take one more hit,” Friend said. “I have to make that decision for myself and my family. I have hopefully a very long life ahead of me and I need to be a good father and a good husband to take care of my family. I don’t ever want to go through what I’ve been through with this concussion again.”
Although the decision seemed inevitable given his inability to return to the field, the striker admitted that he didn’t come to decision lightly as he saw specialists across North America as he considered returning to the game. But despite the bittersweet ending to this chapter in his life, Friend still admits that he can hold his head up high given his success across Europe throughout his career.
“It’s unfortunate. I wish the fans and the organization could have seen me at my best,” said Friend. “I’ll always take pride in my work ethic and attitude. I wasn’t a fancy player but I think that I have a lot of respect from every player and organization. I had a lot of highs especially playing in the Bundesliga and coming from a small town in Canada, I had a lot against me and I succeeded.”
As for what’s next for the newly retired Friend, the 33-year-old now hopes to move into the business of soccer in some respect which is fitting for the Canadian who holds a degree in Business Economics from U.C. Santa Barbara.
One avenue that may be worth exploring for Friend if he is up for consideration is with the Canadian Soccer Association, a group that the former national team forward believes needs considerable reforms.
“I would love to change the entire dynamic of the Canadian Soccer Association. We’re 20 years behind the U.S. and I think there is a lot of ideas and tips that we can take from them. We’re just too far behind and it takes guys who have been outside of Canada and made it around the world to change the mentality and the system. It takes a lot of work and not one man is going to change it, but I would love to help out.”
LA Galaxy forward Rob Friend was fined an undisclosed amount by the MLS Displincary Committee for embellishment in the 61st minute of LA's 1-0 defeat to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
In the 61st minute, Friend was fouled by Colorado center back Drew Moor in the penalty area which caused referee Hilario Grajeda to point to the spot and award a penalty kick that was fired wide right by LA captain Robbie Keane. The penalty was the second that Friend had earned this season after Friend was ruled to have been fouled in the 18-yard box during the closing moments of an eventual 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake.
CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s roster is pretty much set heading into the season opener against Real Salt Lake, but one question mark remains.
Trialist Dan Gargan has been with the team since the start of the preseason, but as of yet, there has been no word about a contract offer from the Galaxy. But that doesn’t mean that LA isn’t interested according to head coach Bruce Arena.
“We’re going to try,” said Bruce Arena when asked about if the team is planning to sign the 31-year-old defender.
Outside back depth is vital for LA at the moment as the club dispatched youngsters Bryan Gaul (waived) and Greg Cochrane (traded to Chicago) in recent weeks.
RILEY EXPECTING TO START IN DEFENSE
While Gargan’s status is still up in the air, the newest member of the LA Galaxy, James Riley is expecting to get the start at left back this Saturday against Real Salt Lake due to an injury to Todd Dunivant.
Riley has seen significant time this preseason at left back due to Dunivant’s nagging hamstring injury and is likely to get the nod against RSL.
“I’ll be ready to go,” said Riley. “Whatever Bruce decides, I feel fit and ready to go.”
Dunivant is improving rapidly; however, as the veteran left back went 45 minutes in a recent scrimmage with LA Galaxy II against Cal-State Fullerton as he seeks to be available for selection for Saturday.
“I’m ready to be available,” said Dunivant. “It’s a good guess [that Riley starts]. I’m still working on [being 90 minutes fit], but first thing is first is getting healthy and I’m moving forward.”
ARENA ADMITS EXPERIENCE RULES ALL AS SEASON OPENER APPROACHES
The LA Galaxy’s new found experience has been a major plot line this preseason and on Thursday, head coach Bruce Arena went into detail about how he expects the team to be different during the 2014 campaign.
“I think the priorities were addressed with the new players,” said Arena. “We needed more experience in midfield; we got that with [Stefan] Ishizaki. We needed some help on our forward line, and we got that with Samuel and [Rob] Friend. We needed some experienced players in the back; we have that now with [James] Riley. Obviously [Baggio] Hušidić is another experienced player in the midfield as well. I think that’s what we needed to address. This year, we’re looking at Friend or Samuel or Hušidić or Riley or [Dan] Gargan or Ishizaki. Last year it was [Jack] McBean, [Jose] Villarreal, [Hector] Jimenez, and [Rafael] Garcia, I think that’s an improvement.”