CARSON, Calif. – Hector Jimenez has had his chances to carve out a regular spot with the LA Galaxy during his three-year professional career. However, for whatever reason, a regular place in the Galaxy starting XI has eluded him.
Of late however, with Landon Donovan away on international duty, Jimenez has been entrusted with the right side of the Galaxy midfield and is determined to make this chance count.
The 24-year-old midfielder has enjoyed some success recently as he has tallied two goals as well as two starts in his last three appearances, including a goal in LA’s 2-0 victory over FC Dallas last Sunday. As he looks to lock down a consistent spot in the Galaxy, Jimenez believes this month represents a “big time” chance.
“Luckily, [head coach Bruce Arena] gave me the opportunity over these last two games and I've gotten some minutes. I feel good right now, to be honest with you,” said Jimenez. “I've been able to get a couple chances here and there and luckily, I got a goal on Sunday. Now I just have to keep building on that.”
Jimenez has racked up 31 regular season appearances—20 of those starts— over his three year career, but he has bounced in and out of the lineup since being drafted in the second round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft from the University of California, Berkeley.
When he thinks back about those missed opportunities, what does he believe cost him the chance to hold down a spot?
“Maybe just consistency,” said Jimenez. “Sometimes, I’m not fully focused, I guess I would say. But it’s about taking advantage of the opportunities. When I get one or two, just put them away and hopefully things will work out.”
Even amid his recent success, the Galaxy coaching staff has implored Jimenez to continue to make aggressive runs in the attack and stay focused defensively. During LA’s two victories last week, Jimenez showed great improvement in both areas as he has repeatedly made darting runs forward while also showing a willingness to drop back into defense to aid right back Sean Franklin’s overlapping runs.
Associate head coach Dave Sarachan is quick to note that the Jimenez has “cleaned it up” on both sides of the ball, but he admits that the staff has had conversations with Jimenez about becoming a more complete player.
“We've had many. That’s just a product of being a young player. Sometimes when opportunity stares them in the face, they don’t recognize it. Now when you go through it after failure, you can recognize it a little bit,” said Sarachan. “He knows that Landon is not coming back, this isn't a part-time thing, and this could be a full time [stint] for this month and beyond. I think that his perspective and experience kicks in.”
One player who has aided Jimenez in his growth is Franklin. Not only does the pair share the right flank on game days, but two players also room together on the road and constantly swap tips about how to improve their form.
”Before the game against Dallas, Hector sent me a text saying ‘let’s be sharp on our side, let’s make sure that we get a goal or an assist on our side.’ And that’s what happened,” said Franklin. “It just shows that his mindset going into games is good. He’s focused and he wants to show well. We’ve got a good partnership right now.”
With a little help from his roommate, a little wisdom from his coaches, and a little more consistency from himself, Jimenez is confident that he’ll be able to turn his month-long stint on the right side into a permanent position.
“I just have to be more consistent and make it harder for Bruce to decide whether I should play or not,” said Jimenez. “I just have to keep building on that.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com