Samuel ready to start new chapter of his career in Los Angeles
CARSON, Calif. – Samuel’s command of the English language is limited, to say the least. The LA Galaxy forward, a native of Sao Borja, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, knows a few phrases like “Nice to meet you,” “How are you” and “Thank you.” No bad words -- yet.
“I don’t want to learn those,” he said with a grin after training Thursday.
The Galaxy, however, didn’t bring Samuel to the club to improve his communication skills. The reason why they secured the 22-year-old’s services on a year-long loan from Rio de Janeiro-based side Fluminense was to help give them a bigger, more physical presence up front and, naturally, score goals.
And so far, the 6-foot-1,190-pounder has been doing just that as the Western Conference power prepares for Saturday’s regular-season opener against Real Salt Lake at StubHub Center.
Samuel, who had 15 goals in 72 appearances with Fluminense over the last two years, has scored several goals during the preseason and has created quite an impression on his teammates, most of whom were unfamiliar with him prior to his arrival in January.
“I hadn’t heard of him at all,” said Robbie Keane, who likely will be Samuel’s frequent partner up front this season and continues to give Samuel a crash course on his attacking tendencies in training. “I’ve been very impressed with him.
“I think he will cause defenders a lot of problems.”
Said head coach Bruce Arena, “He’s alert in front of the goal, and that’s a real plus.
“We have a number of players with quality and finesse, and once in a while you need a few bulldogs in the mix.”
Samuel, who had been linked to a number of deals with clubs in Brazil, Spain and China prior to his arrival in Southern California, said he has been adjusting to his surroundings quite well, thanks in large part to the presence of fellow Brazilians Leonardo, Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas on the roster. But not everything has gone smoothly, as it turned out.
“The most difficult thing for me is to speak the language,” he admitted. “Obviously there are a lot of things I can’t understand from my teammates and my coach. That’s definitely the most difficult thing.
“But once I have the ball at my feet I feel comfortable here in the U.S.”
He said he’s steadily getting acclimated to the nuances of Keane.
“I have to be ready for him; for 90 minutes I have to be focused to finish that play he created or whatever he does on the field,” Samuel said. He also admitted he still finds it hard to believe he’s here in the states embarking on a decidedly new chapter in his career.
“Of course I’m surprised,” he said. “I never expected to be here at such an early stage of my career. But I’m ready, I’m happy and I hope I’ll be able to help the team with a lot of goals and make it to the finals and hopefully win the tournament.”