Contract extension a good sign for DeLaGarza, Galaxy

AJ DeLaGarza

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CARSON, Calif. — A versatile player throughout his first two seasons with the LA Galaxy, A.J. DeLaGarza has blossomed as a central defender in 2011.

And the team rewarded him accordingly last Thursday, inking DeLaGarza to a multi-year contract extension that will keep the 23-year-old in LA's plans for years to come.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “It’s good to get it out of the way and continue on with the season and win the championship this season. It’s good to know that I’ll be here for a while.”

DeLaGarza has logged 1,523 minutes in 17 games this season, and is on pace to set personal career highs in both categories. In his first two seasons, the University of Maryland alum helped the Galaxy reach MLS Cup and win the Supporters’ Shield while filling in at both outside backs as well as central defense.

Despite a supposed undersized frame — he stands at 5-foot-9 — DeLaGarza has been a rock in central defense this season. He’s also displayed the versatility that’s made him so valuable in Galaxy camp, including a switch from center back to the right side to make room for Gregg Berhalter on Saturday against San Jose.

The Galaxy picked up a shutout, the team’s fifth shutout in the last seven games.

“We think he’s a real good player. He’s a great teammate,” LA coach Bruce Arena said. “It’s good to know we’re going to have A.J. in a Galaxy uniform for a number of years.”

While he has done well to continue improving his game, DeLaGarza said he wasn’t going to relax now that he’s inked his name on a new deal.

“You always feel comfortable when there’s a little bit of security, but you’re never comfortable,” he said. “I can always improve. There’s always room for improvement everywhere in my game, so I’m just going to work on that and hopefully make this team better.”