Fitting Right In
CARSON, Calif. – The shock of his new surroundings is starting to wear off for Tommy Meyer, but there are constant reminders for the Galaxy’s first round 2012 MLS SuperDraft pick that the life he once knew is over.
Two doors down from him in the locker room, for example, is the locker of David Beckham. There also is Southern California’s warm weather for the native of St. Louis and the realization he has been given a chance to fulfill a life-long passion of playing professionally.
“This has been a dream for a long time,” he said after training Tuesday. “And now that’s finally come true. But you have to keep working.”
Meyer, who was in the starting lineup for Friday’s 7-2 win over the L.A. Blues, was selected by the Galaxy with the last pick of the first round of the MLS SuperDraft on Jan. 12. A four-year starter at Indiana University, Meyer appeared in 81 games for the Hoosiers during his collegiate career and was an All-Big Ten first-team pick in 2011. Meyer also was a member of the U.S. Under-17 National Team at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in South Korea and played in three of the four games in that tournament.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said he has been impressed with Meyer’s adjustment to the professional level, and it’s a good thing with central defender Omar Gonzalez, the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year, out indefinitely after undergoing major knee surgery.
Meyer figures to get a chance to show what he can do, but Arena and his staff are trying to avoid forcing too much on him at this point.
“He’s starting to pick up on things,” Arena said. “Obviously, the transition the players make in any sport in this country, going from the collegiate level to the professional level, there’s an adjustment period to the speed of the game, mentally and physically.
“He’s making that transition. He’s doing a pretty good job.”
Meyer, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder who turns 22 in March, said he definitely had a case of the nerves when he first arrived for training camp, but he sensed his comfort level starting to increase by the end of the first week. He said he tries to learn something each day to prepare himself for the next practice.
“The one unexpected thing so far is the constant speed of play,” he said. “You have to stay sharp throughout training or you get punished for it.”
Such is the life of a center back, what Arena said is one of the most demanding positions in the game.
“It’s one of the harder positions because when you make a mistake most people become aware of it,” he said. “It usually correlates into a goal for the other team or a good goal-scoring opportunity. It’s like a goalkeeper; everyone can figure out when he makes a mistake and the ball ends up in the back of the net.
“It’s kind of that way with a center back as well. It’s not an easy transition.”
But it’s one Meyer said he is anxious to make. And with Gonzalez out, he might get a better opportunity than usual.
“You always want to compete for minutes coming in,” Meyer said. “That has to be your mindset. You always want to try to outwork everyone else to get minutes on the field.
“It’s definitely something that’s in the back of my head.”