CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and his staff have always been fans of Sean Franklin’s talents. The former Cal State Northridge standout and 2008 MLS Rookie of the Year has the kind of speed that can give opponents nightmares.
They’ve also liked his versatility, having played Franklin at right back as well as on the right side of midfield. In league play this season, he’s been at right back against Chivas USA, Colorado and Sporting Kansas City and in the midfield against Chicago and FC Dallas.
HIGHLIGHTS: LA 2, KC 0
But there he was, in his customary position on the right side of LA’s back four during last Saturday’s impressive 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City. The move was necessitated by the suspension of central defender Leonardo, who was sent off in the second half of the 1-0 road loss to FC Dallas – thus reuniting the central defense pairing of A.J. DeLaGarza, who has played right back when Franklin was in the midfield, and Omar Gonzalez in the process, along with stalwarts Todd Dunivant and Franklin at left and right back, respectively.
The latter two also were returning to the lineup after recovering from minor leg injuries.
“Obviously it’s my most comfortable position,” Franklin said. “It’s nice being back with the back four that I’ve been familiar with over the years. It felt comfortable there.
“Bruce has put me at right back and right mid. Wherever he plays me I have to make sure I adjust to it.”
Said DeLaGarza, “That’s a position he knows so well playing the last four or five years there. He’s more comfortable. It’s good to have him back at right back.”
One of the longest tenured Galaxy players, Franklin was originally taken in with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. The 28-year-old ranks ninth in club history in games played and has made his U.S. National Team debut in a friendly against Chile in January 2011 at The Home Depot Center.
He became a fixture on the Galaxy defense almost from the start of his MLS career and Galaxy coaches and teammates quickly took note of his skill set.
Franklin’s speed on the flank almost makes it imperative that he is in the lineup, and coaches have had no qualms about moving him up from his normal right back position to take more advantage of his pace. Franklin, however, said he hasn’t been entirely pleased with his play at right midfield.
“I’m a little frustrated with the number of bad passes or crosses,” he said with a grin. “I’m definitely not where I want to be being sharp making that last pass in the final third (of the field).
“It’s definitely something I want to work on. I want to make sure when it comes to game time it’s repetition.”
Galaxy associate head coach Dave Sarachan differed slightly.
“To have him fit is important with his speed on the flanks,” he said. “Whether he comes forward as a right back or as a right midfielder. We like that component of trying to get behind a back line of teams a little more often than he would maybe as a right back.
“He’s adapted to both positions pretty well. It’s nice to have that versatility with the speed he offers.”