CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy sent three of their young talents to train with Swedish club Hammarby, and if the training stint is a successful one, it could lead to further opportunities for the three players as well as the two clubs.
The Galaxy confirmed on Saturday that defender Bryan Gaul, forward Charlie Rugg, and midfielder Kenney Walker have been sent to Sweden to join the second division side. Coached by former Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter, Hammarby currently sit in seventh place in the Superettan and nine points out of a berth in the promotion playoffs for a spot in the Allsvenskan (first division).
All three are expected to begin training with the AEG co-owned team this week.
“It’s a great experience for them,” Technical Director Jovan Kirovski told LAGalaxy.com on Tuesday. “They get a chance to experience a different environment…This is about these kids getting some experience and hopefully getting some minutes and turning this [training stint] into some kind of loan deal, maybe.”
None of the three players have seen considerable time with the Galaxy first team this season, with the 22-year-old Rugg being the only player to appear in an MLS regular season match.
The 19th overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Rugg has made four appearances in all competitions while scoring one goal for LA. Walker, 24, missed the entire preseason after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot, but made his lone appearance of 2013 when he started in the Galaxy’s U.S. Open Cup defeat to the Carolina RailHawks on May 29.
Meanwhile, Gaul has not featured for LA in 2013 after making 19 appearances in all competitions last year. Injuries have slowed the 24-year-old defender in his second season, as he has battled through ankle and knee injuries during preseason as well as early on in the season.
Following Sunday’s match against FC Dallas, Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena stated that a loan deal was possible for the trio and Kirovski reiterated this position.
“For sure, that’s why we’re sending them. We think that they can help them. We think that they can help Hammarby and it’s great for their development,” said Kirovski. “For young players, it’s great for them to experience a different type of culture, a different style of play, and living in a different type of environment.”
Kirovski shares an extensive relationship with Berhalter as the pair played together with the Galaxy during the 2009 and 2010 seasons as well as with the U.S. National Team.
Berhalter, who was an assistant coach with the Galaxy until taking the reins in Sweden, has already had extensive conversations with the Galaxy Technical Director about where the three players may fit into Hammarby’s set up.
“Gregg and I go way a long way back and we spoke about this [move] back and forth,” said Kirovski, who joined the Galaxy coaching staff as an assistant following Berhalter’s departure before being named Technical Director in January. “We respect each other’s opinions and we think that these are some guys that might be able to help [Hammarby].”
And if the training stint is successful, then Kirovski believes that a greater relationship between the two clubs could be forged. After all, the two teams have a prior history of similar moves like in July 2012 when then-Academy defender Oscar Sorto spent two weeks with the Swedish club.
“It’s a different style of play [in Sweden] than what we play here. It depends how [the three players] fit in. This is good experience for players in the future as well to see how they fit in their system and how much they can help them,” said Kirovski. “It’s great for us to have this partnership because we have another option for our players for their development. Overall, it’ll be a great advantage for our club.”
Galaxy President Chris Klein, who currently sits on the Board of Directors at Hammarby and is another former teammate of Berhalter, agrees.
“We're constantly looking to get a better idea of how the level over there compares to the level over here, so we can do more stuff with them, in the end,” said Klein.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com