CARSON, Calif. — The Galaxy announced on Friday the signing of defender Julian Araujo. But it wasn’t quite as simple as it sounds.
In fact, the way in which they finally acquired the Galaxy Academy youngster is nearly as big a story as the signing of the 17-year-old defender to his first professional contract.
“Julian is one of the best young defenders in Southern California, and we’re thrilled that he’s chosen to begin his professional career with the LA Galaxy,” Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese said in a statement released by the club. “When we have academy players like Julian that are good enough for the first team, we will sign them to the first team. Our club’s structure and mentality will allow a young player like Julian to develop into a top first-team talent.
“We would also like to thank Santa Barbara Soccer Club and Barca Residency Academy for their role in his development as a person and a player.”
Araujo is NOT a homegrown player. By his age and affiliation with the Galaxy, one would be forgiven for thinking it could be any other way. In fact, he fell six months short of the academy requirements that are necessary to sign a player to a homegrown deal.
But the Galaxy apparently either couldn’t wait or didn’t want to wait to secure his services.
Araujo, despite his young age, has shown signs of possibly becoming one of the Galaxy’s best and brightest future assets alongside 16-year-old Homegrown player, Efrain Alvarez.
The club also is relatively tight on maneuvering room regarding the salary cap and are thin on defense. In fact, Araujo already had to fill in at right-back for Rolf Feltscher earlier this preseason when Feltscher went down with an injury.
In order to get Araujo on a senior team contract, the Galaxy needed to find a way to bring him into the league under MLS rules. And because he fell outside of any drafts or lists, he was placed on waivers.
But in order to ensure another team didn’t grab him – a strong possibility — the Galaxy sent $50,000 in targeted allocation money to the Colorado Rapids, the no. 1 team on the waiver list, to ensure Araujo would remain with the Galaxy.
It was a fancy bit of roster work that should make Galaxy fans appreciate a very competent general manager in te Kloese. But it’s also a sign the last two years of front-office mismanagement have put the Galaxy in position to make a move like this.
Araujo and the Galaxy have forfeited all of the rights and benefits of being a homegrown player. His salary will count against the team’s salary cap (if he earns a senior team roster spot), he will be eligible for selection in expansion drafts and he won’t get to play in the MLS homegrown player game at the all-star break.
But in placing Araujo on the roster now, the Galaxy