When Edson Buddle departed for Germany on Monday, the LA Galaxy had a gaping hole to fill at forward. Selecting a forward or two in the SuperDraft seemed logical.
Instead, by the time the Galaxy’s first pick came up, the club had already acquired a pair of forwards.
Thus, the Galaxy turned their focus to the midfield on Thursday as the club selected Paolo Cardozo and Hector Jimenez with their two picks in the 2011 SuperDraft.
Though Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said each player had strong qualities, he also said patience is the best way to deal with their respective development.
“These are two players we think are promising and we’re going to have to be patient, but we’ll work with them to see if they can develop into good players,” Arena said in a conference call. “We’re not expecting young, inexperienced players of this nature to step on the field immediately and have an impact — and I don’t think that’s, oddly enough, the case of any of these players that were taken today.”
Cardozo, 20, raised eyebrows at the MLS Combine. Although not as well-known entering the combine as fellow internationals such as Victor Estupinan or John Rooney, Cardozo did well to impress scouts and made a strong case for himself with his play in the middle of the field. A native of Montevideo, Uruguay, Cardozo has already been exposed to professional soccer as he was part of Argentine side Quilmes.
“(Cardozo) is a player we liked in the Combine and think he’s a young kid with a lot of promise,” Arena said. “He’s a creative, quick, good-passing midfielder, a player with a good work rate. We believe he’s the type of player we don’t see too much in our country and is worth the time and investment.”
With their second selection, the Galaxy nabbed local product Jimenez. An alumni of Bell Gardens High School and the University of California, Jimenez had five goals and 28 assists in four years with the Golden Bears.
“We know him from his days at Cal and again [he's] a player we thought had a good combine,” Arena said. “He was a player we didn’t think was going to be available that far into the second round so when the time came in the second round and he was available, it was pretty natural for us to select him.”
After losing Buddle, the Galaxy traded for a pair of veteran forwards. Adam Cristman came over from D.C. United on Wednesday while Chad Barrett joined the Galaxy from Toronto FC just hours before the draft began.
While Cardozo and Jimenez could at some point contend for starting spots in the midfield, Arena said that may not happen right away.
“We’re going to be patient. We think they’re good players and will have a good future. We’ll see how they pan out,” Arena said. “Right now, we want to be smart about this and not have tremendous expectations.”