CARSON, Calif. – Days after the LA Galaxy saw their 2013 campaign end, head coach and general manager Bruce Arena remarked openly about his team’s need for a target forward. Just seven days into 2014, he got his man.
On Tuesday, the Galaxy added Samuel on a year-long loan from Brazilian Serie A club Fluminense. During his two seasons with the Rio de Janeiro-based club, the 22-year-old striker tallied 15 goals in 72 games while frequently starting alongside longtime Brazilian international Fred.
Samuel will be officially added to the club’s roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and his P-1 Visa.
“He’s the kind of player that we think that we need on our team, a big strong athletic forward,” Arena told reporters while observing a U.S. National Team training session on Tuesday morning. “He plays well in front of the goal, will be a presence in front of the goal, and we think that he’s a young player with a lot of potential. We’re eager to get him here to Los Angeles and see how he fits in with our team.”
The acquisition of Samuel ends a courtship that began late last year when the forward first appeared on the club’s radar. Although Arena stated on Tuesday that LA had courted the 22-year-old since last month, Samuel also attracted the interest of a multitude of clubs in Spain, Brazil and China.
“We’ve looked at him closely on film and we had the opportunity for two of our staff members to go down to Fluminense and see him in person,” Arena noted. “We think that he is a player with a lot of potential and we’re hopeful that he can emerge as a good player for the Galaxy and for MLS.”
From the outset, the 6-foot-1 striker is expected to contend for starting time with LA mainstays Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. During the 2013 season, Donovan and Keane accounted for 26 goals and 20 assists, but neither could provide the target presence that the Galaxy had possessed in years past with the likes of Edson Buddle and Chad Barrett.
Now that the Brazilian has put pen to paper, Arena and the Galaxy expect Samuel to earn his keep.
“One of our weaknesses last year, although no one would argue that [Keane and Donovan] are not a great group of forwards, I think that in some games you need a stronger physical presence up and in front of the goal and we have that now in Samuel,” said Arena.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com