New additions highlight the Galaxy’s roster overhaul in 2020. CoG is there to talk to Emiliano Insua and Gordon Wild.
CARSON, Calif. — The excitement level has reached a fever pitch for the LA Galaxy as the five-time MLS Cup champions prepare for the regular-season opener on Saturday at Houston’s BBVA Stadium against the Dynamo (12:30 p.m., Univision).
But the level of anticipation perhaps is not as great as that being felt by new left-back Emiliano Insua, a veteran of some of the finest teams and leagues in Europe who signed with the Galaxy in the first week of January. The 30-year-old then had to wait several weeks to obtain his work visa and has had only a brief amount of training with his new club.
It’s safe to say he breathed a sigh of relief when he made his debut in a scrimmage this month.
“Yeah, it was hard. No, I wasn’t patient,” he said with a laugh as he talked about the delay in paperwork for his visa. “Everything was going well, then I had to wait.
“I wasn’t nervous, but it was frustrating.”
There are no such worries now for the Argentine defender who played for the likes of Galatasaray (Turkey), VfB Stuttgart (Germany), Sporting CP (Portugal), and even English powerhouse Liverpool prior to signing with the Galaxy. He likely will become a fixture on a rebuilt defense that is coming off a season in which it allowed 55 goals and was plagued by unsettling inconsistency.
The presence of Insua, however, figures to change that. And he definitely plans to do something about it.
“I want to help bring some stability to the defense,” he said. “Last year the team allowed a lot of goals. That’s too many for a team that’s won five titles.”
Insua said he tried to follow the Galaxy — “Because of the players that were here … Robbie Keane, David Beckham, Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) and (Cristian) Pavon,” he said — from his various stops around the world, but it was difficult because of the difference in time zones. Argentina, for example, is five hours ahead of Los Angeles; Germany is nine hours ahead. But he’s grateful, now that he’s here.
“I was looking forward to coming here,” Insua said. “The lifestyle is very nice, the weather is good, you have the beaches. Life is much better here.
“This league is growing a lot. I expect to be here for many years.”
Insua and the Galaxy will be taking on a Dynamo side featuring a new head coach in former U.S. men’s national team standout Tab Ramos and the likes of forwards Mauro Manotas (13 goals and 8 assists in 2019) and Albeth Elis (9 goals and 10 assists). Midfielder Darwin Quintero (10 goals and 5 assists) came over from Minnesota United, and former Croatia youth international Marko Maric could be the No. 1 goalkeeper.
Speaking of acquisitions, there perhaps is none bigger than the addition of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the Galaxy. Mexico’s all-time leading scorer is expected to team up with Pavon in easing the loss of scoring sensation Ibrahimovic to Italian side AC Milan, and he can’t wait to get started.
“We are excited that finally the season is going to start,” he said. “We’re going to challenge ourselves and see where we are and what we want to become. We want to win the championship, but it’s going to be very hard.
“We have to take it game by game, and hopefully we can get three points on Saturday.”
Midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, nursing a groin injury, has returned to full training but will not play against Houston. The status of central defender Dan Steres, who also is training again after recovering from an unspecified injury, is unclear. Nick DePuy likely will start in his place if Steres isn’t ready.
CALL OF THE WILD
Forward Gordon Wild, who signed with the Galaxy earlier this week, said it was a no-brainer when the team’s technical director, Jovan Kirovski, contacted him late last year and told him the club was interested in bringing him in for a look-see.
Wild, a former SuperDraft pick of Atlanta United who was out of work at the time, said he was more than happy to take a flyer with the five-time MLS Cup champs. He went on to impress the coaching staff enough that he was signed to a contract for the 2020 season.
“I came into preseason without a contract to have the club take a look at me,” he said. “I don’t think the club would have signed me if they didn’t see something in me, and I don’t think I would have stayed if I didn’t think this was a good opportunity for me. Mutually, the club and myself think this is the next step for me, and it’s time to play good football.
“I had a good feeling … it’s good to put it into writing now. It was pretty easy to settle in here.”
The 24-year-old Wild spent last season with D.C. United and made 16 appearances on loan with the club’s USL affiliate, Loudoun United. Wild originally was a 2018 draft pick by Atlanta, but never played for the first team and was loaned out to USL side Charleston Battery. He also had one goal in nine games with Atlanta United II last season.
When the Galaxy came calling, he was more than ready to listen. He said he also had some interest from a couple of teams near his homeland of Germany, a chance with the Galaxy simply was too good to pass up.
“It happened out of nowhere,” he said of the Galaxy’s interest. “I was more focused probably going back to Europe, but that’s life. When the Galaxy called, of course I thought it was a very good opportunity.
“I’m not finished here in the U.S. I have a lot to prove. I think this will be a good season for me.”