CARSON, Calif. – Having the ability to play in multiple spots has been a valuable asset for the LA Galaxy’s A.J. DeLaGarza. A year ago, he filled in at both outside back spots as well as central defense.
However, playing such a versatile role can also be a detriment. Instead of having the chance to lock down one spot, versatility can sentence players to a career filled with utility work.
How does DeLaGarza approach his situation?
“I have to keep an open mind,” DeLaGarza told MLSsoccer.com. “I just want to get on the field.”
DeLaGarza began his third season with the Galaxy in search of more playing time. He played in 22 games during his rookie season in 2009, and got in 17 times in a 2010 season that saw the Galaxy bring home the Supporters' Shield.
He was a fixture at central defense in the postseason, though, as he slammed shut what had been a revolving door of center backs in the last third of the season.
Not much has changed this preseason as DeLaGarza continues showing his worth all along the back line. Still, while he wants to play, he’d just as soon show up to work knowing it’s in one spot.
“I think I’ve become a better player,” he said. “The thing now is just getting one position down consistently, day in and day out, and being able to play there and practice there day in and day out, just getting used to that.”
That may prove a tall order as it’s become apparent that DeLaGarza’s best value to the Galaxy might be in his versatility.
“I can kind of fill in at each spot more so than some of the other guys, but just being ready, as a professional you have to be ready to play when your number is called and I’ve been able to do that the last two years no matter where that’s been,” he said.
Despite not having one spot to call his own, DeLaGarza earned a call-up to the US national team and spent most of January in camp. He dressed for but did not play in the United States’ 1-1 draw with Chile at The Home Depot Center on Jan. 22, but the experience helped him entering LA’s preseason.
“The national team camp helped me mature a lot, being able to play with those guys, and I kind of had a preseason before this preseason, getting fit and getting touches on the ball and things like that,” DeLaGarza said. “I came in more confident from that camp, already playing for three weeks hard.”
With all the steps he’s taken since joining the Galaxy, DeLaGarza has much more self-assurance now, but he can’t stop moving forward.
“I’m a lot more confident then I was the last two years,” he said, “but I’ve still got a lot to show.”
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