Acquired by Los Angeles: Selected by the Galaxy in the second round (17th overall) of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.
One of the most versatile young defenders in MLS, A.J. DeLaGarza is back for his third season with the Galaxy. DeLaGarza was used at right back, left back and in central defense last season, spending significant time at each position. A center back in college despite standing just 5-foot-9, DeLaGarza featured at the position over the final third of the 2010 season and into the playoffs, replacing the injured Gregg Berhalter. He will look to once again provide versatility throughout the LA defense this season while also cementing his spot in the starting lineup.
2011: Set new career-highs by starting in and appearing in 30 regular season games and playing 2,627 minutes, which were the second most on the team. An important figure in the Galaxy’s success all season long, DeLaGarza appeared in 42 games in all competitions, with LA keeping a clean sheet in 20 of those matches. In addition to his 30 regular season appearances, DeLaGarza also started all four of the club’s postseason games, six CONCACAF Champions League games and both games in the U.S. Open Cup. He had one assist in those 42 games, setting up Adam Cristman’s goal in the 2-0 win vs. Motagua on 8/16. He was forced to leave the 0-0 draw with Seattle on 7/4 with a head injury and missed the 2-1 win vs. Chicago five days late, but was back on the field for the U.S. Open Cup loss at Seattle on 7/13. He was used primarily in central defense during the season, though he did see some time at right back.
2010: One of the most versatile defenders on the squad, DeLaGarza appeared in 17 games during his second season in MLS, starting at left back, right back and in central defense. The Galaxy were 11-2-1 in the 14 games that he started, keeping a clean sheet in half of those games. He scored his first goal of the season in the 3-1 win vs. Philadelphia on 5/1, tallying just 51 seconds into that win. That goal was the fourth fastest goal in club history and also broke Edson Buddle’s streak of having scored the club’s first seven goals of the year. Over the final month of the regular season and into the postseason, DeLaGarza was used in central defense alongside Omar Gonzalez in place of the injured Gregg Berhalter. He started all three of the club’s playoff games, while also playing in three Open Cup and Champions League games.
2009: The Galaxy’s second round draft pick, DeLaGarza made an immediate impact during his rookie season, appearing in 22 games at both right back and left back. He made his debut in the season opening 2-2 draw vs. D.C. United on 3/22, playing the full 90 minutes at left back. In late May, he became the club’s starting right back following an injury to Sean Franklin and went on to start 16 consecutive games for the club at that position before suffering an injury himself vs. FC Dallas on 9/12. Before going off injured in that game, DeLaGarza scored the first goal of his MLS career, sliding home a rebound to tie the score at 2-2 just before halftime. The 22-year-old recorded the first assist of his career two months earlier, crossing for Edson Buddle to head in the only goal of LA’s 1-0 win at Chivas USA on 7/11. He was one of two Galaxy players to play the full 90 minutes against both AC Milan and Barcelona in the club’s summer friendlies. In the postseason, he replaced the injured Todd Dunivant for the Western Conference Championship vs. Houston, playing the full 120 minutes as the Galaxy won 2-0 in extra time. In MLS Cup, he came on for the injured Omar Gonzalez late in regulation and played all of extra time at right back.
DeLaGarza collected the first two caps of his international career in January 2012, playing the full 90 minutes at right back in a pair of 1-0 wins, beating Venezuela at home and also winning in Panama. This was the second straight season that DeLaGarza had been called in to the U.S. team for their annual January camp, though he did not play for the team against Chile in January 2011.
A two-time National Champion at the University of Maryland, DeLaGarza appeared in 88 games during his college career, making 81 starts and recording two assists. He helped the Terrapins reach the NCAA Tournament in all four of his years in College Park, while also claiming the ACC Championship in 2008. The Terps’ Co-Most Valuable Defensive Player award along with Omar González as a senior in 2008, DeLaGarza was also named to the College Cup All-Tournament Team and was Second Team All-ACC that season when he helped his team keep 15 clean sheets in 26 games, including seven in eight ACC or NCAA Tournament games. In the 2005 NCAA Tournament, he replaced the injured Kenny Bertz in the second half of the quarterfinal win over Akron and then started in the NCAA Semifinal and Final as Maryland won their first National Championship since 1968. Both of his assists at Maryland set up goals for fellow MLS players. His first assist came during his sophomore year in 2006 when he set up Jeremy Hall (now of the New York Red Bulls) for a goal in a 2-0 win over Mt. St. Mary’s. Then as a senior in 2008, he set up Graham Zusi (now of the Kansas City Wizards) for the game-winning goal in the regular season finale against North Carolina.