LAS VEGAS – Nigel de Jong’s preseason debut drew glowing reviews after the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in Las Vegas.
The Dutch defensive midfielder went 54 minutes on Saturday night helping the Galaxy win the California Clásico Cup at Cashman Field. Despite only arriving in the United States on Wednesday, De Jong didn’t miss a beat in his minutes in a Galaxy jersey, as he showcased his wide range of skills.
“He’s a good player, kind of what we expected,” Arena said with a smirk. “He’s going to be very good for us.”
De Jong’s impact could not be seen on the score sheet, but the Amsterdam native provided considerable influence over the match. Whether it was simple forward passes, breaking up opposing attacks, or offering guidance to a teammate after a play, De Jong appeared to integrate himself well into the Galaxy midfield.
After just two training sessions and his cameo in Saturday’s friendly, De Jong’s teammates are already excited to have the Dutch international around for the long haul.
“He’s a steady player isn’t he?” said Galaxy captain Robbie Keane. “He protects the back four, gives the ball and gives it to people five or 10 yards away and sometimes that pass is more effective than any other pass. You can see that when he gets the ball, he plays it quickly into the attack and can take two or three players out of the game straight away. He’s going to be a huge player for us.”
Added goal scorer Gyasi Zardes, “Nigel is clinical. He plays simple. He gets into tackles and he’s a phenomenal teammate to have. I’m excited for this year.”
De Jong is scheduled to be introduced to the media on Tuesday, a day ahead of the club’s final preseason match against Seattle Sounders FC. Like the rest of the first team, De Jong is expected to go nearly 90 minutes in the closed-door preseason scrimmage.
With the team’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series with Santos Laguna fast approaching, Galaxy boss Bruce Arena is confident that De Jong will only continue to improve.
“He’s found his way right away,” Arena said.