CARSON, Calif. – David Romney is barely into his first season of playing professional soccer, but the LA Galaxy defender is turning heads for his impressive play.
The first-year performer, who began the season with Galaxy II, made his first-ever start in a 3-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on July 25 and drew praise from Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena despite the one-side result.
Now others are joining the Romney bandwagon.
Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who had five saves in Saturday night’s disappointing 0-0 tie with the Montreal Impact in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000 at StubHub Center, has been particularly impressed with the former University of San Francisco standout. The 38-year-old Ricketts admitted he knew nothing about him when he rejoined the Galaxy last month from Orlando City and has liked what he has seen, especially Saturday.
“The bigger the occasion the best players rise,” Ricketts said, “and he showed tonight he has a lot of mettle.”
Romney, manning the center of the Galaxy defense alongside Omar Gonzalez, was facing a particularly formidable test in the form of Impact striker Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast native and former Chelsea legend who scored a hat trick in his first-ever MLS start last Saturday and is regarded as one of the world’s most physical players.
Romney said Galaxy teammates Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane, both of whom faced Drogba during their days in the English Premier League, tried to help prepare Romney for the challenge.
“Just play him safe,” Romney said of the instruction he received. “He’ll be strong.
“If you try and make it a physical battle he’ll beat you.”
Romney said it didn’t take long for him to find out just how strong Drogba, listed as 6 feet 2 and 177 pounds, really is.
“I took a couple elbows early on you don’t expect,” Romney said with a grin. “You can’t ask for anything more. It’s so fun to be out there playing against those guys at that level.
“I watched his movement, how he turned off the ball and tried to play him as safe as I could. Things worked out.”
Romney, who made his move from Galaxy II permanent on Aug. 5, said he is having the time of his life. He also admitted he is finding his change in fortunes a little hard to believe.
Asked if all of this has sunk in, Romney smiled and said not yet. And he doesn’t expect it to.
“I don’t think it ever will,” he added with a grin.