CARSON, Calif. — Frankie Hejduk was brought into the LA Galaxy as cover for incumbent right back Sean Franklin and to add depth and leadership to an already solid unit. And though an ankle injury has kept him out of the squad over the past few months, he's about to be needed more than ever for the team.
On Sunday, Hejduk returned and played for just the second time with the first team this season. Hejduk played the final 30 minutes vs. Manchester City in an Herbalife World Football Challenge match, which finished in a 1-1 draw followed by an unsuccessful penalty-kick shootout.
"It was just good to get out there and have a run about," Hejduk said after the game.
The longtime Columbus Crew defender came in over the offseason to help fill the void other veterans such as Eddie Lewis and Chris Klein had left when each retired following the 2010 season. Hejduk was named to three World Cup teams but missed out on 2006 due to injury.
Having been a fixture wherever he's played, has it been frustrating to not play as much as he has?
"We've been winning," Hejduk said. "We haven't lost in 13 games, so the frustration is nothing at all. As a player, you want to play as much as you can but there will be a time for that. Right now, we have a good rhythm going."
However, being a leader by nature and someone who others are likely to turn to for guidance, Hejduk admitted a part of him has been a bit frustrated.
"I want to get back on the field and help the team out wherever I can," he said. "If anything, that's been the frustrating thing — not being able to be available the last few weeks."
With Sunday's match, though, the signs are positive for Hejduk. He may not have been available during parts of June or July but he could possibly be healthy and available in August and September, which is when the Galaxy could utilize him. LA will have four league matches and two CONCACAF Champions League games in August, and four MLS games and three CCL games in September.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena will likely call on the former US national team standout.
"Coming into the season, that was one of the things Bruce and I talked about," Hejduk said. "We're going to need a deep roster. There are going to be tons of games coming up here and now you're going to start seeing us needing to use a deep roster if we want to do well in Champions League as well as keep our pace in MLS. That's what I'm here for and wherever I can help out, that's the point of it."
Playing or not, though, Hejduk is simply riding a wave of happiness in his first year with the Galaxy.
“I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I can get some games coming up here ... with the Champions League but I just enjoy myself and it's good to be part of this team,” he said. “Everything's positive here. When you're unbeaten in 13 games, it's not too bad.”