CARSON, Calif. – New midfielder João Pedro is primed to play a major role in LA Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo’s plans for the 2017 campaign.
The Galaxy announced the signing of the 23-year-old Portuguese defensive midfielder on Thursday to solidify a central midfield that several departures including Steven Gerrard in the offseason. Pedro’s signing comes just a day after the Galaxy added another big piece to their midfield, U.S. international Jermaine Jones.
With the Galaxy prepared to open training camp next week, Onalfo is pleased to add the Portuguese midfielder to the fold.
“[João Pedro] is another solid player who can play as a holding midfielder and as a No. 8. He’s a tenacious player who is playing in a top league. He’s an emerging player who we’ve had our eye on for quite some time,” Onalfo told LA Galaxy Insider. “We know that he’ll immediately help our team get better. It solidifies our midfield with the addition of Jones and [João Pedro], we’ve addressed those needs that we felt in the offseason where we felt that we needed to improve.”
The defensive midfielder arrives at StubHub Center after spending 12 years on the books with Vitória Guimarães in Portugal’s Primeira Liga.
Pedro rose through the ranks in Vitória’s academy and spent the last five years with Vitória Guimarães B where he made nearly 100 appearances. This season, Pedro has served a regular for the first team squad making 17 appearances and scoring a goal while leading the club up the table to fifth place in the Primeira Liga standings.
For a team that struggled at times in the center of the park in 2016, Onalfo has high expectations for his Portuguese import but cautions that he’ll need to take some time to adapt to MLS.
“Anytime that you sign a player from outside, it takes time for them to adapt. The advantage is that he’s in the middle of his season and he’s fit because he’ll need to get visas and physicals,” Onalfo said. “Every player is different and if you look at players who have come into the league, to expect them to step right in, right away and make a huge impact, usually doesn’t happen.
“It’s our job as a club to get him to understand how we play tactically and to help him in his adaptation off the field. How quickly he can adapt, we’ll see. We have great players that can all play in the midfield. [The signing] makes our team better and addresses an area where we wanted to improve. We look forward to having him join the group.”
According to Onalfo, the Portuguese midfielder is scheduled to arrive in Southern California later this month or in early February after he completes a physical and acquires his work visa. Once he does arrive, he’s expected to a earn place in Onalfo’s new look midfield.
“He'll have a good month with us [in training] which is plenty of time, especially with him being right smack in the middle of the season. Having all the time to get his visa sorted will give his body a bit of a break, which is a real good thing,” said Onalfo. “We hope that once we get the national team players come back in camp, we'll have our full group after having a strong load in the first weeks of preseason. The last four weeks, we’ll get ourselves ready for what is going to be a great season.”