CARSON, Calif. – After three seasons of loans, Juninho is with the LA Galaxy for good and the tenacious Brazilian midfielder couldn’t be happier.
The deal to bring Juninho from Brazilian club Sao Paulo on a permanent basis became official in mid-January after the Brazilian spent the past three seasons on loan. Juninho returned to Southern California from Brazil last Thursday and spoke to the media for the first time on Monday.
The move from Southern California to Brazil took some time, perhaps because it included Juninho’s wife’s Yorkshire terrier Julie, but now that it is over, Juninho admits that things are “perfect” in LA.
“[It was] easy because I didn’t play [at Sao Paulo] too much,” said Juninho, who is currently in the process of applying for a green card. “Here Bruce [Arena] gives me all the support and love here. I play a lot of minutes. I’m happy to be here.”
Now that Juninho has arrived in Southern California, he is quickly looking to re-gain his fitness as he reported that he is currently at “70 percent” after the offseason, but expects to return to full fitness soon.
Although it was all smiles on Monday, Arena admits that the Galaxy entered the negotiations with Sao Paulo with some apprehension due to a few past experiences.
“We managed to do it in the first week of January. Our past experiences were it wasn’t going to be easy but it turned out to be something that made sense for both club," said Arena. "We’ve always had a good relationship with them. We’re happy for the player, we’re happy for our club.
“Sao Paulo is a club with a lot of talented players, sometimes they can’t keep everybody,” Arena added. "We were fortunate to create a relationship where we were able to get Juni here.”
With Juninho at The Home Depot Center for good, the Brazilian and the rest of the Galaxy can now focus on the task of going for an unprecedented third consecutive MLS Cup championship.
“It’s a different year with different kinds of players,” said Juninho. “I’ll during the games. I think we’ll be fine.”