Jonathan Bond sees the skill in MLS and Greg Vanney is instituting a Galaxy system that everyone needs to understand.
New LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond has been in this country for just over two months and, aside from being holed up in a hotel room as he looks for more permanent housing, he likes what he has seen.
That not only goes for his views on Southern California — “I love the city,” he said of Los Angeles. “Everyone’s been very welcoming from my perspective” — but his early observations of Major League Soccer as the Galaxy prepared for their fourth preseason contest Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park against the New England Revolution (7 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet).
The teams will meet again on Wednesday at DHSP at 7 p.m. That game will be streamed live on lagalaxy.com.
“It (MLS) seems to have developed really quickly,” he told members of the media in a teleconference call Friday. “There’s a lot of high-quality players here. I’ve been not surprised, but I’ve been enjoying the level of the young players here, even the boys coming up from G2. There’s a lot of talent, and technically they’re very, very good.
“I think there can be sometimes a little bit of arrogance over in England which isn’t good, but at the same time I think MLS as seen around the world is definitely growing. And I think people see it now as a real serious league and a serious level.
“It’s great to be a part of at a great time.”
Bond, 27, who signed with the Galaxy in mid-January, joined the five-time MLS Cup champions after representing English side West Bromwich Albion since 2018. He’s also had stints with Watford and Reading throughout his career and overall has made 36 appearances in England’s Championship, the second level of football in that country behind only the Premiership.
Now comes a new challenge, something he was excited to take on. He said the differences between the level of competition he was used to prior to moving across the pond were striking. But that’s not denigrating Major League Soccer in the least.
“I think, especially in the Championship and Premier League,” he said, “everything is very frantic. Everything is very results-based and everything is very short-term. There’s less risks taken, there’s less time to implement philosophies.
“Whereas here it’s allowed to breathe a little bit more, so you can kind of implement the way you want to play. Tactically, I’ve actually found it to be slightly more advanced, especially with this manager (Greg Vanney) anyway.
“It’s been an eye-opener,” he said. “It’s actually been very enjoyable to be a part of.”
Bond said fans should not be concerned with the Galaxy being a work in progress at the moment. National-team duties have resulted in the departure of several key players (Efrain Alvarez, Julian Araujo, Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos) and injuries to the likes of Giancarlo “Pipo” Gonzalez, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Jorge Villafana have affected the hopes of Vanney and his staff to build any consistency, but Bond said the straits aren’t as dire as they might appear to be to outsiders.
“I think what’s happening at the moment is the manager is implementing the way he wants to play, and it’s not necessarily with a starting 11 kind of thing,” Bond said. “Everyone has to know everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Everyone’s tuned in, no matter if you’re playing 15 minutes or starting the game or not. Everyone’s learning.
“There are a lot of players out. I’m sure it’s going to look different come the start of the season, but I feel the structure he’s putting into place is going to be one that’s very easy to kind of fill in because everyone knows everyone’s responsibilities.”
Vanney said the team continues to make progress despite an incomplete roster and multiple absences from training camp. He also said the team’s chemistry is something the team can be proud of.
“It’s been great,” he said. “We still have plenty of faces and names to get in and add. We’ve got a lot of guys away between national team duty and everything else, so we’re a light bunch right now. But the chemistry’s great, the work rate is great.
“It’s a really good group of guys who enjoy each other, so that’s a good starting point.”
Vanney was asked what he has learned about his team.
“What I have found and am really pleased with is their eagerness to learn and engage in something not new for everybody but different than what they’d been doing in the past,” he said. “Their willingness to be compliant and to work through the progress to get in the direction that we want them to go.
“Their willingness to work hard every day, bring full engagement every single day. It’s been enjoyable to take them through the process and together we’re working. They’re learning from us and we’re learning from them, and that’s what the culture should be.”
Vanney also provided an assortment of injury updates. Hernandez, for example, suffered an unspecified ailment but has been training and will play Saturday. Villafana had been battling a groin problem, Vanney said, but also will see some playing time against the Revolution.
The same, however, can’t be said for center back Gonzalez, who has a bone bruise and won’t play Saturday. Neither will central defender Derrick Williams, who continues to recover from recent hamstring surgery but could return to training next week, Vanney pointed out.
“Other than that, we’re doing pretty good,” Vanney said with a straight face.
HOME, SWEET HOME
Villafana understandably has been relishing his return to Southern California.
Villafana clearly is enjoying being back in familiar surroundings.
“Happy to be back home, happy to be close to the family and playing in front of the people where I grew up playing,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I left L.A.
“Everyone’s happy that I’m back.”
Villafana, who helped lead the Timbers to the 2015 MLS Cup and the title in last year’s MLS Is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla., admitted he wasn’t sure if he’d ever be back in these parts to continue his career.
“It was always in the back of my mind,” he said. “I always wanted to go back home, but I never thought it was going to happen.”