CARSON, Calif. – Bruce Arena has heard the negative chatter surrounding the signing of Ashley Cole but the LA Galaxy head coach is confident that it will be proved wrong once the veteran defender takes the pitch.
The Galaxy completed the signing of the 35-year-old former English international on Wednesday morning. Cole arrives in Los Angeles after a two-year-long stint with Italian giants AS Roma. The left back made a total of 11 appearances for the club during his time in the Italian capital.
Regardless of how Cole’s time in Europe ended, Arena is adamant that the left back will make an immediate impact with the Galaxy.
“Ashley Cole has a great history. We know that doesn’t necessarily translate on the field when you come to MLS but my interactions over the last couple of months show me that he’s a player that has a strong desire to play here in Los Angeles,” Arena told LAGalaxy.com. “He’s very fit and has a burning desire to get back on the field and prove to people that he can still play. I have a hard time believing that he won’t be one of the better left backs in our league.
“I think that the opportunity that he’s going to have in LA is going to be a good one for him, and he’s going to be able to contribute greatly to our team”
Cole joins the Galaxy after an illustrious 18-year career in Europe that included stops at Arsenal, Chelsea and Roma. The London native also enjoyed a banner international career with his country, earning 107 caps for England along with appearances in three World Cups.
Cole’s pedigree is hardly garnering headlines, however, as plenty of focus has centered around disparaging comments he made about Major League Soccer prior to his signing with Roma two years ago. That doesn't concern Arena, however, who is expecting big things from the Englishman.
“I think that he’s a good addition to our team, but only time will tell. Whether you think it’s a risk or a gamble, these are the risks and gambles that you take, Arena said. “There is a real upside of having Ashley Cole with the LA Galaxy.”
Cole’s acquisition is the latest veteran signing for a Galaxy side that will lean heavily on experienced faces in the year ahead. The English defender is the seventh acquisition for the re-tooled Galaxy this offseason, joining the likes of Dan Kennedy, Jeff Larentowicz, Mike Magee, Ema Boateng and Jelle Van Damme.
Despite all the experienced additions, Arena believes that his side will have the right type of balance to win titles this year.
“I think you always have to think about the balance on your team with their age and experience, but I believe that we do have the right balance here,” said Arena. “Good players who are fit and have their minds right can play at 35-years-old, 31-years-old, or 21-years-old. I think that you have to have the right balance. Certainly, we’re going to be a veteran and experienced team, but a good team.”