CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Ashley Cole turns 38 on Dec. 20 and is well aware he is on the tail end of an impressive career that featured several English Premier League titles and more than 100 national-team appearances for his native England before he joined the Galaxy in January of 2016.
The veteran left back and team captain now is looking into the immediate future, one that could include another year with the Galaxy or a farewell stint somewhere back across the pond. He just isn’t sure yet.
“I have a few ideas in my mind,” he said after training this week. “I’m still enjoying the football. I know the time’s going to come when I have to stop, so whether it’s this year or I go back to Europe and try to give it one more go somewhere back in England, I have a few options.”
Cole said he wasn’t sure what might convince him to stay with the Galaxy. He does have two young children, son Jaxon (5 1/2) and daughter Grace (seven months) and he said his son enjoys being in school in Southern California. His daughter also was born here; his son was born in Rome.
“It’s a good life for him here,” Cole said of his son, “but I have to kind of think about his future, where we want to live. Do I stay or do I go on? It’s a tough decision.”
Cole, who was born in London, began his professional career after signing with English powerhouse Arsenal in 1998, he transferred to Chelsea in 2006 and later joined Italian side AS Roma before coming to the Galaxy. He made World Cup appearances for England in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
He clearly misses England – “There’s going to be a time when I want to go back,” he said – and he said he would love to work in some capacity for Chelsea. But could he see himself staying with the Galaxy for another season?
“Yeah, I could,” he said. “Of course, it’s kind of in L.A.’s court as well. I think they make decisions after maybe December, in terms of renewing people’s contracts. Whether I want to wait that long, I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to wait that long and kind of leave the decision up to them.
“I know I’m of course good enough to play another year. As soon as the season finishes and if they want me to stay and they have to come and kind of ask me, I’ll go on. No problem.”
HOW SWEDE IT IS
The Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who received congratulations from around the world after recently scoring the 500th goal of his professional career, will receive even more acclaim before Saturday’s game against Vancouver.
Ibrahimovic will receive the Eliason Merit Award from The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles (SACC-LA). The award is given annually to a Swedish business or individual who has significantly strengthened Swedish-American relations. Past winners included actor Dolph Lundgren and women’s soccer coach Pia Sundhage.
The ceremony will take place at StubHub Center on Saturday, which just happens to be Swedish Heritage Night.
“This is me representing the new Sweden,” Ibrahimovic said. “I represent Sweden wherever I go. I put Sweden on the map; this is me representing Sweden all over the world. I’m 200 percent Swedish.
“This is who we are and how it is. It’s 2018 and everybody should flow with it, happiness and peace. This is what I believe, and I represent the new generation of Sweden. I’m the one that opened doors for all of them.”
Romney has played everywhere along the back line this season and even at wingback during the Galaxy’s ill-fated experiment with a 3-5-2 formation. Romney never has blinked during a season that has been difficult on a number of levels.
Add the fact he will be out of contract when the season is over, and it’s no wonder Romney hasn’t been as consistent as he would have liked.
“It’s been mentally challenging,” he said. “Us not winning a lot of games and going through an unbeaten streak, then losing a bunch of games … it’s been really tough mentally. I also haven’t played to the standards I would like to be playing most of the season.
“I thought I played well in games here and there, but that’s not good enough. You have to play well on a consistent basis. Whether that’s being uncomfortable in the formation or constantly changing lineups, I’m sure that had something to do with it. There were parts during the season where I just don’t think I played well enough, regardless of the formation.
“I’m happy to get a couple of games going good,” he went on. “Hopefully we keep doing this and make a run to the playoffs.”
One of those “good” games occurred last Sunday when he teamed with Dan Steres in central defense to help the struggling club fashion a much-needed, 3-0 victory over Seattle in its late-season push toward the postseason. It was the team’s first clean sheet since July.
“The whole team played really well,” he said, “but we can’t just do it this one game. We have to have the mentality that we’re coming for teams every single game. We have to consistently do that.”
Galaxy interim head coach Dominic Kinnear, who recently took over for the departed Sigi Schmid, has been impressed with the 25-year-old’s play.
“Dave takes care of himself, he’s always ready and he is versatile,” Kinnear said. “He has a good understanding of the game and makes his transition from one position to the next fairly simple.
“I think his minutes have been important for us.”
Romney is happy to receive such praise, but he also said he is his own toughest critic.
“I like to hold myself to a high standard,” he said. “I’m not happy with how I played in a lot of games. That’s just me being really tough on myself.”
The Irvine native said he would like to remain with the five-time MLS Cup champions, but he realizes the decision is not up to him. He also admitted an uncertain future is weighing heavily on him.
“It’s human nature to think about it,” he said. “It’s kind of 50-50. It’s something you’re kind of thinking about, but it’s also something you’re going to have to deal with once the season is over.
“I don’t have any control over it. I just have control over the way I play. How they evaluate that is on them. I would like to stay.”