Injury pushes Jimenez into midfield role in first preseason match

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy midfielder Hector Jimenez has made a name in MLS as a fleet-footed winger, and occasionally a right back, but on Friday, a late injury scratched pushed Jimenez  into his old collegiate position—central midfield.

When Michael Stephens went down with an ankle injury on Thursday, the Galaxy opted to push Jimenez into central midfield for the second half of LA’s 5-0 preseason victory over the U.S. Under-17 national team.  Jimenez looked right at home as he provided a leadership presence in the midfield for a youthful group composed primarily of rookies and Homegrown players.

“We were short numbers so [Galaxy assistant coach] Curt [Onalfo] and the coaching staff decided to put me there. I’ve played there before so I felt comfortable because it my original position when I started playing soccer. I was probably one of the older guys on the field at that point. It felt good, I got a lot of touches on the ball and I took charge of the midfield.”

The 24-year-old’s tidy performance drew rave reviews from Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena and may lead to a further look in the position in the future.

“I thought he did a good job. He played well, I think that’s more of his natural position from his collegiate days and club ball, I know he’s played as a central midfielder,” said Arena. “We’ll look at him in both positions…We needed to fill that position and I thought that Hector did a good job there.”

Jimenez admits that the flank is his best chance to crack the Galaxy starting lineup particularly with LA’s vast assortment of options in central midfield but he’d be pleased any position that allows him to be a regular contributor.

“It’s my third year and in that year, you need to be more mature. Hopefully I can play well and contribute well this season,” said Jimenez. “I just have to come out here and control the things that I can control which is practice well and show the coaches that I deserve to be here and hopefully by the time season comes along, I’ll get some time.”