Galaxy right back’s attacking skills on display this season

Already one of the best young defenders in MLS, Sean Franklin has improved his attacking skills

Sean Franklin vs Chicago Fire 2

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CARSON, Calif. – Sean Franklin, playmaker?

Maybe it’s a stretch to give
that label to the former MLS Rookie of the Year, but the LA Galaxy’s third-year
defender definitely has shown his attacking side this season. The 25-year-old
has a career-high five assists, third on the team behind Landon Donovan’s
league-leading 14 and Michael Stephens’ 7, and he even scored a goal against
the Puerto Rico Islanders in a CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round
match.

Franklin has been getting forward
more and more as the season wears on, and he surprisingly is growing more
accustomed to the added dimension to his game.

“I’m getting used to it,” Franklin said Tuesday. “I
have a lot to improve on. I want to continue to work on my crossing, work on getting
into the attack and be more dangerous and be confident enough to take on
players.

“I just want to be more
aggressive.”

Franklin, who missed five
games earlier this season because of a sprained left ankle, was coming off a
2009 season in which a severe hamstring injury limited him to 13 games. He
started off 2010 in top form before his latest injury, but Galaxy head coach
Bruce Arena said Franklin
has been one of his club’s best players of late.

Franklin’s forays into the attacking
end of the field, as it turned out, have been more out of necessity than
anything else. With midfielder David Beckham only now returning to action after
being sidelined six months because of a torn Achilles tendon, Franklin was asked to go forward to provide
more width in the Galaxy attack.

“He’s done very well in that
capacity,” Arena said. “He’s a player with pace and has a pretty good
understanding of his timing and when to get forward.

“At the start when he had
David playing on his side of the field, it was a little bit easier to make
those runs and learn, and also David could deliver the ball. David reinforces
what we’re trying to do to get him in the attack.

“He does a real good job of
it. It’s natural for him.”

Franklin said getting forward has
been something he still has trouble getting used to. He likened it to an
acquired taste.

“We’ve been talking all
year,” he said of discussing the strategy with Arena and his staff. “They tell
me, ‘Take that space, have confidence going forward.’ I’m working on that, and
I’m trying to get as far as I can in helping the attack.

“With the guys on the
outside, they come in a lot which allows me to get around them. Whoever is on
the right side has been working really well with me. I’m glad I’m able to get
into the attack and create some things.”

He also admitted to hearing
a little voice in the back of his head which constantly reminds him of his
defensive responsibilities.

“Definitely,” he said with a
grin. “Kind of like the last game (a 3-1 victory over Columbus). We’re winning 3-0, so there’s not
really much of a reason to go forward. Just hold the fort and play good, solid
defense.

“There’s always a time when
you can go. It’s just a matter of reading the game and knowing when to go
forward. I’m pleasantly surprised with the way things have gone, and it’s nice
to contribute more this year.

“I’m happy with how I’m
playing.”

Chat live with Sean on this week's Cup of Joe live interactive webchat! Thursday at 12:30 p.m. PT

 

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