CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy defender Dan Steres was in the locker room Wednesday when he did a double take.
His old teammate at San Diego State, Joe Corona, had just walked in after officially joining the five-time MLS Cup champions on a free transfer from Liga MX side Club Tijuana.
Steres had followed the former Aztec but hadn’t seen much of him. Until Wednesday, that is.
“We’ve kept in touch here and there, but I didn’t know he was making his way over here,” Steres said. “Everyone kept it real quiet.
“I was surprised, happy, excited. It was good.”
It definitely was good for the Galaxy, who have seen their midfield depleted by injuries and departures and were desperate for reinforcements. Corona agreed to a deal (terms were not disclosed) with targeted allocation money, which means he will earn between $530,000 and $1.5 million.
“I think now with the move we made last week’’ – the buyout of Giovani dos Santos – “and the player personnel moves that were formalized we couldn’t pass on the opportunity,” Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese said. “I think the player was very interested in coming here. He has a lot of family close by.”
Corona, who turns 29 in July and was born in Los Angeles, was indeed thankful for the chance to resurrect a career that had grown stagnant in Tijuana, where he had seen his playing time steadily decreasing.
He agreed that he felt the move was a fresh start.
“It does, it does,” he said after his first training session with his new team Thursday. “Coming to a new league, a different style of play, I’ve never played in MLS, so it’s going to be a good experience for me.”
Corona, also a veteran of the U.S. men’s national team, stands a good chance of getting some playing time Saturday, when the Galaxy take on FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas (12:30 p.m., Univision, UniMas). Galaxy head Guillermo Barros Schelotto acknowledged the possibility, although they haven’t had much of a chance to talk tactics. That will occur during training on Friday.
“He can play a lot of positions in the middle, the right, the left, he can play wide,” Schelotto said. “He’s the kind of player we need for the whole season.”
Te Kloese echoed those sentiments.
“He’s a player that can play for us in different positions,” he said. “He can fill different roles and be very useful in different systems if Guillermo decides to do some different tactics.
“He has some experience, he played at a good level in Mexico and he’s an American international. That’s all positive.”
Corona said it didn’t take long to convey his interest in continuing his career stateside.
“Everything wrapped up pretty quickly,” he said. “I said yes immediately when they reached out to me and told me they wanted to get me.
“I’ve always wanted to come here and play in MLS. It was one of my goals as a professional soccer player and I think it’s the right time to do it.”
Midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who has missed almost all of training camp because of a small tear in his right hamstring, could return to the lineup this weekend.
Thursday marked his first training session since early in camp — “But I’ve been running really hard for a while; I just wanted to get my fitness up before I got back,” he pointed out — and he said he feels great.
“We’ve made a lot of progress the last two weeks,” he said. “I feel amazing. It feels great to be back (training) with the squad. It’s been frustrating, of course, but now moving forward I should be good.”
Good enough for Saturday against Dallas?
“I think I can play,” he said. “We’ll see what the coaches want. They’re pretty confident in me and I’m confident in myself.”
Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed two days of training this week because of a sore Achilles tendon and may not travel to Dallas, according to Schelotto.
“I’m a little worried because he didn’t train yesterday (Wednesday),” he told reporters. “He didn’t train today. Yesterday the field was under water. But I’m worried because he couldn’t train today.
“I don’t know what’s happening. I hope to bring him to Dallas but I don’t know.”
One player who definitely is out is midfielder Romain Alessandrini, who left last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Chicago with an apparent hamstring problem. Schelotto said he will miss at least the next two games. Also sidelined is midfielder Perry Kitchen, who suffered an injury to his right ankle during a recent training session and has been seen in a walking boot at Dignity Health Sports Park.
There was some good news on the injury front, however. Midfielder Juninho, who has been out with a knee injury, participated in his first training session in several weeks Thursday.
Former Galaxy midfielder Baggio Hudisic announced his retirement Thursday.
The 31-year-old Husidic, who had been trying out with Los Angles FC earlier this year before leaving to pursue other opportunities, leaves the game after a 10-year career that included eight seasons in MLS, including five with the Galaxy.
Husidic scored 18 goals and had 14 assists in 154 career games, including 101 starts.
“I am extremely fortunate to have been able to spend the last 10 years of my life playing the game that I love,” he said in a statement released by the Galaxy. “I couldn’t have predicted what my career would have looked like, but I am proud and grateful for everything I have been able to experience through soccer.
“Thanks to my coaches, my teammates, the front office and the fans for making this club feel like home for the past five years. I will cherish all of the amazing friendships forever. My family and I will forever be supporters of this great club.”