One spent his offseason in Richmond, Va., the other in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Separated by more than 2,000 miles, they were united by a common driving force. Both were limited in minutes and games due to injury in 2010 and both worked hard during the offseason to rehab those injuries.
It should have been no surprise that on Monday they posted some of the highest marks on their endurance and strength tests.
Cristman, 26, is a happy camper this week here in Carson, his fourth MLS stop in as many seasons.
A five-year MLS veteran, Cristman was a finalist for the Rookie of the Year award in 2007. He opened a lot of eyes with his play his first two years in the league. He played 46 games, scored 10 goals and added five assists. New England, his first club, was in the playoffs both seasons.
The next two seasons were another story. No playoffs, less than half as many games in the two seasons combined and only two goals during stops in Kansas City and with D.C. United.
“It’s been a rough two years,” said Cristman, acquired two weeks ago in a trade with United. “My first year and a half in the league were great. I was making great strides in my professional career and I’ve hit a skid.”
Now he wants to break out of that skid. He wants to get back on track, which is why he put in the work this offseason. On Monday, it paid off as he tested well on many of the club’s strength and endurance exams.
“For me, it was positive reinforcement for all the work I’ve put in the last few weeks,” he said. “I’m happy to put all of that behind me and it’s nice to be here and have a fresh start.”
Like Cristman, Leonardo was limited in minutes and game action in 2010. The Brazilian-born defender started the first three games along side Omar Gonzalez at center back and was receiving rave reviews, but then picked up a left quad injury in training that sidelined him for three months.
When Leonardo returned, he wasn’t the same. He found himself behind Gregg Berhalter in the pecking order and even when the Sao Paulo native did finally get back into the first team on a consistent basis, he picked up a new injury on Sept. 24 against New York and did not play a single minute the rest of the season.
“I think the first day was good,” said Leonardo in Spanish. “I’m going to take it day to day, little by little, but I’m going to get better.”
After working out by himself during the offseason, Leonardo was happy to see his teammates.
“It was exciting to see the guys, I’m happy to be back here,” he said. “It’s a new year, a lot of new people as well and we want to win titles. That will take time and a lot of hard work. But it all starts today.”
Much like his road to recovery.
The Galaxy will open the 2011 MLS season on Tuesday, March 15 when they head to Seattle to take on the Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field in MLS First Kick 2011, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. That game, which will kick off at 6:30 p.m., will be shown live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, as well as online at ESPN3.com. The Galaxy will then host the New England Revolution in their home opener at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20 at The Home Depot Center. Tickets are available for that match through the Galaxy Kickoff Pack, which includes four tickets and two Galaxy blankets, starting at $96. BUY NOW