24 Under 24: #14 Juninho, LA Galaxy
|Tale of the Tape|
|Matches played: 26|
|Matches started: 26|
Pos: M | LA Galaxy | Age: 22
Is he the most important player for LA? In just his second season in MLS, the 22-year-old Juninho has become the lynchpin of the LA Galaxy, responsible for maintaining the perfect balance in the team’s midfield. Contrary to the stereotype attached to Brazilian players, Juninho leaves the flashiness to others. Aside from the occasional bomb from distance, the São Paulo product mainly concerns himself with helping dictate the tempo of matches through simple passing and intelligent positioning. Together with David Beckham, he’s formed an effective central midfield pairing that may not be the quickest in the league but they are savvy and always tough.
What the TDs and coaches say: “Crafty. Good technical player and he has some bite … As with other international players, in his second year in the league he’s been better … Pleasant addition for the Galaxy because he’s a two-way player … He has good finishing ability and has a good long-range shot and good distribution of the ball … What he brings to the team is vision, possession, defending and he also gives them the ability to have Donovan and Beckham on the field playing their best soccer. He makes other players better … Right now the role LA have him in is to free up Beckham and Donovan and win the ball back. There’s going to come a day when he’s going to have to become more of a playmaker.”