CARSON, Calif. –Michael Stephens is well aware that he has an opportunity to solidify his place with the LA Galaxy this season and now it’s up to the energetic 23-year-old to lock one down.
After spending three seasons behind the likes of David Beckham, Juninho, and Marcelo Sarvas in LA's midfield depth chart, the departure of Beckham represents an opportunity for Stephens to lock down a regular spot with the Galaxy starting lineup in 2013.
“Personally, it’s a really important year for me,” said Stephens. “I’ve been kind of a role player. It’s time for me step up here and define a role on this team.”
While Stephens may be looking to carve out a place in the Galaxy’s starting XI, just where he fits on the field is still to be decided.
“We’re going to be playing him a little out wide as well as inside [the midfield]. In those terms, there are some adjustments depending on where he plays, he’s got to tactically understand and do it right,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “He’s been behind some good players, he’s been dealing with in the middle Beckham, Juninho and Sarvas last year and out wide [Mike] Magee, Christian [Wilhelmsson], Landon [Donovan] so it’s not a criticism of Mike because he’s just been competing against some good players.”
A few preseason notes…
*Bruce Arena on the situation surrounding goalkeeper William Hesmer, who was selected in the MLS Re-Entry Draft: “Nothing at this point.”
*Robbie Keane and Juninho will arrive in Southern California later this week. It appears doubtful that they will play in Friday’s preseason match against the U.S. Under-17’s
*Arena on Friday’s preseason match: “It’s the first time that we’ll go onto the field 11 v. 11 and just transitioning into a big game and play a little bit as a team.”