CARSON, Calif. – The start of the preseason for the LA Galaxy has left them with one inescapable fact: They need help at center back.
And although that may have seemed unthinkable to the MLS Cup champs last year, the offseason knee injury to Omar Gonzalez means someone will have to step into some very big shoes for the club this season.
Veteran center back Andrew Boyens, for one, is ready for the job.
“As soon as I signed here, I saw it as an opportunity,” said Boyens, who was picked up in the Re-Entry Draft after appearing in 12 games for Chivas USA last season. “These guys have a great center back pairing in Omar and A.J. [DeLaGarza] and, regardless of what happened to Omar, I was hoping to be pushing for starting minutes.
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“And regardless of what happens to anyone on the team that doesn’t change for me. I see it as a really good opportunity.”
Aside from Boyens, the Galaxy drafted Tommy Meyer and Bryan Gaul in the SuperDraft and Supplemental Draft, respectively, and have extended Leonardo’s loan from São Paulo FC. DeLaGarza has spent January with the US national team and will meet up with the Galaxy with camp already underway.
While the coaches try and sort through the central defense and roster in general, the 28-year-old Boyens said he has work to do.
“I’d like to think that I worked hard enough in the offseason to be able to get straight back into it, but you always have to push yourself there,” he said. “Once that happens you start meeting the guys on the team, getting used to the coaching staff and the system the team plays, and hopefully start establishing yourself as someone who can play early on.”
Boyens was part of New Zealand’s World Cup squad in 2010 but did not play in any of the Kiwis’ three matches. He’s also spent time with Toronto FC and New York, having played a career-high 23 games in 2007 with Toronto FC.
“I understand about the history of this team, what they did last year, and there’s an expectation to repeat that or to do as well as they did last year,” he said. “That’s great. That kind of pressure on the team sometimes can be hard, but the guys on this team relish that pressure. Going into the preseason, bring it on.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.