Greg Vanney touched on a variety of topics during his media call. He covered everything from Samuel Grandsir, and Victor Vazquez, all the way to Efrain Alvarez.
New LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said he’s been pleased with his team’s “eagerness to learn” and “everybody has bought in” as he and his staff try to lift a once-proud franchise from the rubble of a 2020 season in which the five-time MLS Cup champions finished a dismal 10th in the Western Conference.
New players continue to be added, a week ago with former AS Monaco winger Samuel Grandsir and Wednesday with midfielder Victor Vazquez. Vanney knows Vazquez particularly well, having coached him with Toronto FC and watching Vazquez lead the Canadian side to an MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield in 2017.
The 34-year-old Vazquez then spent two seasons playing in Qatar and a year ago in Belgium for K.A.S. Eupen, but Vanney apparently had no trouble convincing him not only that Major League Soccer was the place to be, but the Galaxy was a great fit as well.
“I like everything about him,” Vanney told members of the media Wednesday. “Arguably one of the most intelligent soccer players I’ve ever been around … his ability to organize the game, understand what the game needs, his vision for the final pass.
“His leadership in the final group I think will be important as we establish the culture and the vision of where we move forward, and his technical ability is off the charts. He processes the game with his mind as fast as anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Vanney said he had no problems with Vazquez’s age.
“Victor, I’ve obviously spoken with him over the last two years. We have a good relationship,” he said. “He hasn’t played a ton during the pandemic and during this time, I think he feels as fresh as he ever has in his career.
“I think there’s a lot left in him and I think he’s super eager to get on the field and compete again. I think one of the things he’s missed is MLS and the competitive level of MLS. I know he’s excited to be here and I know there’s a lot left. I think we have a fresh player who hasn’t put a ton of miles on his legs in the recent times and will be fresh when he arrives and is ready to join our group.
“I’m not concerned one bit about his age,” Vanney continued. “It’s his mind that fits into our team and makes such a big difference in his leadership and personality.”
Vazquez could join the Galaxy as early as next week, provided he passes MLS’ COVID-19 safety protocols. The same holds true for Grandsir, who signed a three-year contract (plus a one-year option). He made 81 appearances in France’s Ligue 1, the last one with Brest a year ago before the league shut down because of the pandemic. Vanney also wasn’t concerned about Grandsir’s recent inactivity.
“He’ll be fresh, he’ll be sharp,” Vanney said. “He’s an experienced, young player who has played a lot of high-level soccer. He’ll fit in pretty quickly. Everybody in MLS is basically coming off four or five months since the last time we played. Our guys just played their first scrimmage game last weekend against Columbus (a 1-1 tie in San Diego) having not played a match in I think five, six months.
“I think he just needs to have a good preseason once he gets here and we’ll able to move forward from there. He’s still a pretty young guy, so to have somebody with the international pedigree he has coming to our league and the age of 24 is pretty special. He’s going to continue to develop and get better.”
LA GALAXY MEDIA CALL VIDEO
Vanney touched on a number of topics in a wide-ranging interview. Among them:
— The Galaxy continues to play a waiting game on Cristian Pavon, who recently was officially accused of rape in an Argentina court and ordered to give testimony on March 23. Pavon last month denied the allegations and recently underwent surgery on both ankles.
Grandsir’s addition, Vanney pointed out, does not mean Pavon, last season’s leading scorer with 10 goals and seven assists, will not be back.
“I don’t think it necessarily signifies we’re moving on from Cristian,” Vanney said. “I think he is another piece. We are continuing to look to build the roster. Whether it’s with Cristian or without Cristian is a little bit to be determined. Samuel was going to be added, regardless of whether Cristian was here or not.
“I think to be candid all options are on the table. We need to continue to move forward and keep our options open. When it’s time to either move and get it finalized or move on, then we need to be prepared to do so. I think when those conclusions are met and clear, we’ll be ready for either one.”
— Vanney has been pleased with his players’ collective effort, particularly from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Jonathan Dos Santos.
“As far as our leaders, in Javier and Jona, two guys who weren’t able to play a lot last year, they’ve come out on fire in great fitness and working hard every day,” he said. “Which helps bring a lot of confidence to players around them when they’re on the field.
“That shows everybody you’re moving in the right direction, when your best players are out on the field and they’re performing. That gives confidence to everybody that we’re moving forward.”
— Efrain Alvarez, Vanney said, understandably was thrilled to be called up to Mexico’s senior national team for upcoming matches.
Alvarez and Dos Santos joined Mexico’s squad while Sebastian Lletget was named to the 26-player United States training camp roster (Julian Araujo was called up previously and is currently with the U23 US Team preparing for Olympic qualifiers). It marked the first call-up for Alvarez, 18.
“He’s happy, for sure,” Vanney said of Alvarez, who also is being pursued by the U.S. team. “He’s doing well. He’s one of those really talented, younger players that we have in our system that has special qualities, no doubt. Trying to work with him and understand when, where, why and how he needs to do what he needs to do and take advantage of that special quality.
“He’s excited about the moment in time, both here on the club and with his opportunity within the national team programs. He’s got two wonderful countries that are interested in his qualities … this go-around he’s going to go with Mexico and give a run with them.”