The LA Galaxy have parted ways with Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. Penedo, 33, joined the LA Galaxy after a standout performance at the 2013 Gold Cup where Panama took the United States all the way to the finals. In the past two years, Penedo has shown extremely well for the Galaxy, with 61 appearances for the club in MLS competitions, recording a 29-14-17 record with 177 saves and 21 shutouts. Penedo has twice won the CONCACAF Gold Cup golden glove, in 2005 and 2013.
Almost as soon as Penedo’s departure was confirmed, the Galaxy announced that it had acquired veteran MLS goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from Orlando City in exchange for a 2016 2nd round draft pick. In the short term, Ricketts is probably an adequate replacement for Penedo, just as he was an adequate short-term solution for Orlando while it waited for Tally Hall’s ACL injury to heal. However, Ricketts is 38 years old and his age definitely shows. Ricketts is not a long term solution for the Galaxy’s No. 1 needs.
Replacing Penedo will be difficult. On more than one occasion, Penedo single-handedly (pun intended) kept the Galaxy in games it otherwise would have lost. During the first leg of the Western Conference Semi-Finals against Real Salt Lake last season, when windy conditions and chippy play opened up chances for RSL, it was Penedo’s stellar form on the evening that kept the match a draw. Earlier this year, Penedo had a lights-out performance against Seattle in which he knocked out ten shots on goal and deservedly earned MLS Player of the Week honors.
Reports suggest that Penedo is leaving the Galaxy due to contractual differences. After announcing his departure, Penedo posted on Instagram that the reason he chose to leave was because his contract did not include the guarantees he deemed necessary to provide stability for his family. Penedo’s contract was set to expire at the end of the 2015 season. When his contract was last up for renewal, he was only given a one-year extension. The stopper was likely looking for a guaranteed multi-year contract, which would have provided him with greater financial security – an understandable concern given that he is 33 years old. It is also possible that he believed his compensation was not commensurate with his abilities. Regardless, the Galaxy honored Penedo’s wishes and released him from his contract. There is no word yet on where he plans to take his skills though it would not be surprising to see him land in Liga MX or perhaps back home in Panama. His Wikipedia page was recently updated to reflect that he has a Spanish passport so perhaps he is looking for a move to Europe.
Curiously, though the Galaxy are a team that has had great fortune in finding skilled players in almost every position, it has had trouble finding a reliable No. 1. This will be Ricketts second rotation with the Galaxy, having also played for the team from 2009 to 2011. When Ricketts fractured his forearm in 2011, Josh Saunders stepped up to fill the Jamaican’s shoes. Saunders, a tremendously talented keeper in his own right, was shortly thereafter derailed by substance abuse issues; Saunders and the Galaxy parted ways after the 2012 season (Saunders is now sober and doing a tremendous job for NYCFC). Finding Penedo in 2013 was a stroke of good fortune and he has served the club well for the past two years. Bruce Arena now has some questions to ponder, namely, how long can Ricketts continue as a No. 1 in MLS, and is Brian Rowe ready and/or talented enough to be the Galaxy’s regular keeper?
Penedo’s departure does clarify one point of confusion raised by a recent Corner of the Galaxy podcast, namely that the Galaxy did not have an international roster slot available to facilitate the acquisition of Giovani dos Santos. Penedo was occupying one of the Galaxy’s international roster spots, which is now vacant due to the fact that Ricketts has a green card.