MIAMI— The LA Galaxy bolstered their goalkeeping depth on Monday with the signing of Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, but where he fits into the squad still remains to be seen.
Penedo will be available for Wednesday’s Guinness International Championship Cup match against AC Milan at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, but will be added to the LA’s roster pending the receipt of his P1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate. The 31-year-old goalkeeper spent the last six years of his career with CSD Municipal in Guatemala while becoming firmly entrenched as the starter for the Panamanian National Team.
Fresh off a successful run at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup that saw him lead Panama to the tournament final while winning the Golden Gloves award for the competition’s top ‘keeper, Penedo is eager to get to work with LA.
“I’m very happy in all honesty. It’s a privilege to be part of such a great club in MLS. I hope to succeed at this level,” Penedo told reporters following the club’s training session at Florida International University that he turned down offers in Mexico and Europe to join LA. “I expect good things. I’m a big fan of hard work and doing things the right way. I hope to integrate myself well into the team.”
Penedo becomes the Galaxy’s fourth goalkeeper on the roster and will look to battle Carlo Cudicini and Brian Rowe for minutes in net as Brian Perk is still recovering from a concussion suffered in a reserve match against the Portland Timbers on July 14.
Cudicini has started 20 of LA’s 22 MLS regular season games this year with Rowe earning the nod in the other two matches. However, the Italian has dealt with a back issue over the past two weeks that has caused him to miss both of LA’s ICC matches.
Earning the start from day one will be no lock for Penedo, but he’s excited about the chance to carve out a role with the Galaxy.
“I always think that competition is good. When someone doesn’t have to compete for anything, they tend to relax too much,” said Penedo. “I think that I can learn from the other guys like Cudicini as well. I always go with the attitude of wanting to learn, but always staying true to myself.”
Just who gets the start for LA in net will ultimately be the decision of head coach Bruce Arena, who admits that he has kept tabs on Penedo for some time.
“He’s a good goalkeeper,” said Arena. “I followed him for years for Panama. He’s got a lot of experience; he probably has between 85 and 90 international caps. We think that he’ll help strengthen the goal position for us.”
Not only will he have to earn his way onto the field for LA, but Penedo must deal with a language barrier as just two of the Galaxy’s defenders [Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo] are Spanish-speakers. Just one training session into his Galaxy career, Penedo has already had to deal with the language issue, but he is optimistic that he can adapt quickly.
“Today in training, I was speaking and they didn’t understand me. I learned a few words in English and I think the idea is to not be ashamed to express myself as far as things that are concise,” he said. “I’m sure that we will understand one another.”
As he looks to settle into a new club in a new country and deal with a new language, Penedo is upbeat about his future.
“I don’t have a single complaint of anything,” said Penedo. “It’s been spectacular. I feel very comfortable, I feel good, and I’m happy.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com