CARSON, Calif. – It took about two months, but the Galaxy finally got their man.
The long-rumored pursuit of defender Giancarlo Gonzalez reached fruition on Thursday when the five-time champions announced they acquired the talented Costa Rican international after making two trades.
One deal was with Orlando City, in which the Galaxy sent their No. 11 allocation ranking along with $300,000 in targeted allocation money and $100,000 in 2020 TAM in exchange for the No. 2 allocation ranking. The Galaxy then sent that and a natural first-round pick in next year’s SuperDraft to Toronto for the No. 1 allocation spot, thus allowing the Galaxy to bring in the 31-year-old central defender from Serie A side Bologna.
“I had a long trip, but that’s in the past,” he told reporters after training Thursday. “Yesterday I trained a little bit with the team and I trained today in full.
“I feel good physically and I’m here to help and learn.”
Gonzalez’s status for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia at Dignity Health Sports Park (7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet) was unclear because of incomplete paperwork, and head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said he likely will be available for the April 19 game against Houston. Gonzalez, however, remained hopeful he will make Saturday’s game-day roster.
“We’re holding on to see if everything gets in and is approved for me to play,” he said.
Schelotto said he was certain Gonzalez will have a pronounced impact on his defense.
“He’s a very good professional and a very good player,” said Schelotto, who first became aware of the Costa Rican when he briefly managed him with Italian club Palermo in 2016. “I think he can push the level up a little higher.
Gonzalez said the Galaxy actually first showed interest in him in 2012, when Bruce Arena was head coach.
“It’s a true thing,” he said. “It didn’t happen then and I left for Europe. But recently the contact was there again. I never had doubt in coming here. I think it was meant to happen and I’m excited to get to work.”
Gonzalez is no stranger to Major League Soccer – he was a member of the Columbus Crew in 2014 — and playing for a former manager likely will make his stateside return that much more enjoyable.
“Of course that also had a say in my decision to come here,” he said. “I know their work and I know they’re going to provide me with a good environment to grow.”
This weekend promises to be a hotbed for soccer in Southern California.
The Galaxy will play Philadelphia on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park in front of a packed house and, not more than 10 miles up the 110 freeway, Los Angeles FC will take on FC Cincinnati at the same time in front of a big crowd at Banc of California Stadium.
The importance of so many seats being sold for the two matches has not been lost on Galaxy president Chris Klein.
“I think it’s a great statement to have two clubs that are 10 miles from each other and we’re going to have close to 50,000 tickets sold for two soccer games in the United States and Los Angeles,” he said. “We still have a long way to go, but to me that shows how far this league has come.
“What these two clubs have been able to do, one in a short amount of time and one that’s been here for a while, is really impressive. It’s one of those things where you strip everything aside and the competition we have on the field, it’s just a great statement for soccer in LA and MLS in this country.”
Klein said the impact of huge crowds at the matches should not be overlooked.
“It’s something you’d like to say you expected,” he said, “but when you put it into those words, that the
The Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic said big crowds are regular occurrences for the team’s games, and not just those played in Southern California.
“I think everywhere we go it’s full. At least when we are playing,” he said. “In Vancouver” – more than 22,000 fans were on hand April 5 at BC Place – “it was full. I had good support there and we got motivated by the support we got. And to play in front of a crowd like that is amazing.
“We have it good. We don’t complain about the support we get. We are happy and that’s why we are working hard and trying to give back.”
SLOWLY BUT SURELY
Midfielder Perry Kitchen continues to make painstaking progress from a right ankle injury that has kept him out of action for almost two months.
The 27-year-old suffered tendon damage and a chipped bone in the ankle during a training session six weeks ago and he’s just recently started running and putting weight on it. He’s also finally out of a walking boot.
“I can look at it in a positive way in that it hasn’t been too bad,” he said. “I knew right away that it wasn’t like a normal, turned ankle. I knew it was going to take some time to come back.”
Kitchen, who started 27 times in 31 appearances a year ago, said he’s been having a difficult time dealing with the frustration of not being able to play, “but I have to get my body right,” he said. “The team’s been doing very well and that’s been fun to see. I’m just doing what I can to be back.“It’s tough to watch, for sure, but I’m doing my role and what I can to support the team. Hopefully we’ll continue to have a good season.”