CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Hector Jimenez smiled when informed he was the last surviving member of the team’s 2011 SuperDraft class.
Jimenez was a second round selection (34th overall) out of Cal Berkeley. The first-round pick, Paolo Cardozo, helped LA win MLS Cup in 2011 but was traded to Chivas USA in April 2012. Supplemental Draft selections Dan Keat, Ryan Thomas and Dustin McCarty have all left the club while Zach Johnson opted not to join the team in preseason upon being selected.
“I must be doing something right,” Jimenez said with a grin after training Tuesday.
Now it’s a matter of doing more of those right things. Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said he would like to see more steady play from the talented, 24-year-old midfielder.
“I think he had his ups and downs,” Arena said while citing last May 23, when Jimenez scored in a 3-2 loss to San Jose but also was red carded. “He wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked him to be. This year he should be ready and more prepared to contribute.”
Jimenez certainly was doing his part a year ago, a season in which he played in 15 regular season games and made 13 starts. From a 3-0 win over Vancouver on June 23, his first game back following a two-game suspension for his red card against the Earthquakes, to a 2-0 victory over Vancouver on Sept. 1, Jimenez started in 12 of LA’s 13 league games. The only game he did not start was a 4-0 loss to Seattle on Aug. 5 in which he came on for Juninho for the final 20 minute.
Jimenez understandably thought he had secured his spot in the starting lineup until the club brought in Swedish international Christian Wilhelmsson, and Jimenez went to the bench. He was an unused substitute for the last five games of the regular season and made just one appearance in the playoffs, starting at right back in the Knockout Round against Vancouver.
Journey to Excellence: Hector Jimenez
This season, Jimenez wants to make sure he becomes a fixture in the starting XI again. He took only two weeks off at the end of the last season and then began working on his fitness for 2013. He arrived in camp confident and hopeful of getting his old spot back.
“Obviously there are situations you can’t control,” Jimenez said while discussing his relegation to the bench. “But I’m going to be ready and work as much as I can.
“I want to leave Bruce a tough decision and hopefully get a spot again.”
Jimenez says he’s feeling more and more like a veteran – “The guys around my locker I’m the oldest one there,” he said with a grin – but Arena said he wasn’t so sure that this season, Jimenez’s third in MLS, could be a turning point in his development.
“Everyone’s different,” Arena said. “We’ve had some glowing examples of one year’s enough and others where there’s never enough years.
“It all depends on the individual, the team and how they’re allowed to transition in.”
Jimenez said he just knows he’ll be ready if given the opportunity to contribute again.
“One of my goals this season is to find my role on this team,” he said. “I want to come out here and work hard, do the things I have to do. And hopefully Bruce sees that and gives me that chance.
“It’s not an easy team to break in, not an easy team to come in and out. There are high quality players. I think I’ve earned my spot.”