Keane, Friedel play key roles in Cudicini's arrival in MLS
CARSON, Calif. -- Carlo Cudicini's first notions about playing in Major League Soccer arrived with Chelsea's annual preseason treks to Los Angeles under José Mourinho. His decision to make it happen was spurred by conversations with fellow Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Brad Friedel and through former Spurs teammate Robbie Keane's aid.
But the opportunity to spend time on the field as the clear No. 1 in the net, for the first time in nearly a decade, brokered his move to the LA Galaxy, where he joins Keane after a free transfer went through last month.
“I have to say, in my mind, I always thought it would be a very good experience to come here since I started coming here in preseason with Chelsea,” Cudicini said Thursday in his first media session. “I love the atmosphere, I love the sport culture that you have here in the US, and so I would think that if I had opportunity to come here, I would have definitely taken it.
“So that's what happened. It happens it was in a moment where I wasn't that happy at Tottenham, so I think the two things was perfectly matching, so that's why I'm here.”
Cudicini, 39 years old and the son of former AC Milan goalkeeper Fabio Cudicini, comes in as the clear frontrunner for the No. 1 job after 10 years with Chelsea. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena has said competition will determine starters at all positions, but he also notes that the Italian netminder will “be very good in organizing our backline, and he'll be technically very good in goal, too.”
Cudicini has also spent time with AC Milan and Lazio, but he's been a backup since Petr Cech joined the Blues in 2004 and since moving to Tottenham more than three years ago.
Friedel joined him with Spurs last season, and they built a firm friendship. Cudicini began following MLS through the former US national-teamer, who was a college star at UCLA.
“With Brad, we were discussing results and discussing what was going on here ...,” Cudicini said. “It's a league that's growing, definitely, year after year. New players are coming, and the level is a decent level. Of course, it's a bit different. You have a few stadiums that have [artificial] turf, and that doesn't happen in Europe, so it will be a challenge, and I'm looking forward to it.”
He also insisted that Keane was a major factor in the first contact between his agent and the Galaxy.
"I know Robbie since the Tottenham days, and he is a good friend," he said. "He helped me out in this transfer.”
Cudicini added he's had to work hard to regain his form following a motorcycle accident three years ago, but that's he's ready to go.
“After the motorbike accident that I had, I was struggling to get back to fit,” he said. “It was a big setback in my career after the accident. It was difficult to come back, but now I feel I have the chance to play, and that's why I'm here.”