Dan Gargan is all smiles after earning starting right back role

The MLS veteran has performed ably after replacing the injured James Riley

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Dan Gargan said he wasn’t particularly happy with training camp, mostly because of nagging injuries that prevented him from competing for a starting job.

But he has good reason to smile now. The 10-year veteran is starting at right back and helping solidify a back four that has undergone considerable reshuffling because of injuries to the likes of Todd Dunivant, A.J. DeLaGarza and James Riley, whom Gargan replaced two weeks ago and will be sidelined for several months after underdoing knee surgery.

“That’s why he’s here,” head coach Bruce Arena said of Gargan, originally a fourth-round MLS Supplemental Draft pick of the Chicago Fire in 2005. “We thought he could help us.”

Gargan, who turns 32 in December, signed with the Galaxy in early March following a one-year stint with the San Jose Earthquakes that turned uncertain when head coach Frank Yallop left for the Chicago Fire and was replaced by Mark Watson.

“I didn’t think it was the best situation,” Gargan said. “Frank brought me in there, then for his own reasons he left to go to Chicago. I didn’t really feel like I was in Mark’s plans moving forward.

“It was a good decision to move on.”

He’s already made quite an impression on his teammates.

“Well, for one I didn’t know he was so old,” DeLaGarza joked with Gargan standing nearby. “He still plays young. He’s another veteran we picked up, and he’s obviously reliable in the back.

“It’s good to see. It’s good to see he can step in and get the job done just as well as everybody else.”

Gargan has continued to have hard luck with injuries. He was involved in a collision with Chivas USA’s Mauro Rosales in the Galaxy’s 3-0 victory on April 6 that left him with a sore right shoulder and forced him to give way for Tommy Meyer for the game’s final five minutes. Gargan said his shoulder remains tender, but it won’t keep him off the field.

Gargan also said he wasn’t thinking the worst when the injury occurred – “Just making sure everything was still in a relatively good position,” he said with a grin – and added the muscles in his neck and shoulder continue to heal and his fitness improves.

“I don’t feel like I’m there yet, but I’m getting closer,” he said.

He also can’t help but realize his good fortune at joining the Galaxy.

“I’ve been in the league for quite a few years, and I’ve played for some really good organizations,” he said. “L.A. is certainly at the top. They’re a first-class organization and it’s a great staff. The trainers are really attentive and work really hard to keep us all on the field. The coaches want us to be successful.

“That’s what I feel here with the Galaxy, a certain desire to really excel. It’s nice to be a part of that. It’s a great aura to have surrounding you. We win here, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.

“We have a tradition of winning championships, and that’s what I want to be a part of.”