Galaxy Insider Player Ratings: Juninho
The LA Galaxy season may be over, but LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will spend the next few weeks offering an evaluation of each member of the squad. VIEW CALENDAR
The LA Galaxy Player Ratings will begin with players who appeared in the least number of games this season starting with goalkeeper Brian Rowe and concluding with Sean Franklin who played in all 34 of the club’s regular season games. There will also be an evaluation of head coach and general manager Bruce Arena and his moves at the conclusion of the list.
We will have two to three evaluations per day and focus on what each player did well, what they need to improve on ahead of next season as well as a select thought from the player on their performance and a rating from myself out of four stars.
POSITION: Central midfield
APPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS: GP: 42 [6 in MLS Cup Playoffs, 4 in CONCACAF Champions League], MIN: 3356, G: 9, A: 6
RESERVE LEAGUE APPEARANCES: None
Juninho's free kick goal vs Toronto
HIGHLIGHTS: Consistently a steady presence in the center of the park, the Brazilian midfielder truly came alive offensively during a two month period from July 18 to Sept. 22. In that time, Juninho showcased his ability to score highlight-reel goals as he notched an impressive eight goals in all competitions during that span including three multi-goal games – two against Chivas USA on Aug. 12, two against Isidro Metapán on Aug. 23, and two against Toronto FC on Sept. 22— the first of his young MLS career. At season’s end, Juninho had set regular season career-highs in goals with seven, assists with four while becoming LA’s all-time leading scorer in the CONCACAF Champions League. During the postseason, Juninho settled into a role a distributor by providing assists on two goals, but none was more important than his assist on Omar Gonzalez’s goal in the 60th minute, which kick started LA’s rally to a second straight MLS Cup title.
LOWLIGHTS: Like the rest of his teammates, Juninho battled through a difficult start of the year, with one of his poorer performances coming in LA’s shock defeat to Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals. During the second leg in particular, Juninho struggled to control the center of the park as TFC was able to consistently hit back on the counterattack en route to a 2-1 victory at The Home Depot Center.
Juninho with a blast from distance
HIS THOUGHTS: "I have many goals and many aspirations in life. First is to play soccer and to constantly be thinking on the field like a professional should. It is also important to be with players like [David] Beckham, [Robbie] Keane and [Landon] Donovan. My goal is always to win, play well and look to be a champion. “– Juninho describing his goals as a player in mid-July.
RATING: FOUR STARS
In 2012, Juninho enjoyed yet another strong season as he solidified himself as one of the great young midfield talents in MLS. Whether it was with his ability to boss the midfield or launch spectacular goals from beyond 30 yards, Juninho’s season was a complete success. However, now LA’s most important battle begins as they look to bring the Brazilian midfielder back for a third consecutive season with the Galaxy. Juninho has repeatedly stated his desire to return to Sao Paulo, the club of his childhood, but he could be enticed to join the Galaxy full time. Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena has repeatedly stated this offseason that the club is in talks with the Brazilian club, but no agreements have been reached yet. If LA can keep Juninho –either on another loan or on a permanent basis—then they will be in far better condition to go for an unprecedented MLS Cup three-peat even with the departure of David Beckham.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com