Quartet of LA rookies finding their feet with Cup champs

LA Galaxy rookie Charlie Rugg

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of LA Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. – There's room on the LA Galaxy roster, as it stands now, for all four players selected in last month's drafts, but the quartet -- forward Charlie Rugg, defender Kofi Opare and winger Greg Cochrane, taken in the SuperDraft, and midfielder Andy Riemer, a supplemental pick – knows well nothing is guaranteed.

Even when you've been here before.

Riemer, who starred for NCAA finalist Georgetown, trained with the Galaxy's reserve sides the past two years – a gift from assistant coach Curt Onalfo, who was technical director of Riemer's club back home in McLean, Va., when he was 12. Sometimes, it is who you know.

“It's definitely a little more familiar,” said Riemer, who played with clubs in nearby Orange County the past two summers. “I know the locker room, I know the field a little bit, stuff like that. I mean, it's still a daunting experience, especially coming to the defending MLS Cup champion and, in my opinion, the best club in America.”

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Cochrane, who has been most impressive in the Galaxy's first three preseason matches, understands.

“The first day, you have those nerves, because you've never played with anybody before,” he said. “And as [time goes] on, you get more comfortable. Each day I try to take little steps forward to keep progressing.”

Cochrane, drafted out of Louisville with the final selection in the SuperDraft, has shown great energy on the left flank. He scored in the first game, a 5-0 rout of the US Under-17 national team, a sign that “I can score as well as try to set people up.” Bruce Arena has noticed.

“He's an intelligent player,” the Galaxy head coach said. “I think he's making progress. He's done well throughout the preseason.”

Riemer had an assist in the second game, a 3-0 victory over USL Pro side LA Blues, and Opare has fared well in two appearances after missing the first two weeks of camp while rehabbing a hamstring injury sustained at the MLS Player Combine. That was after missing most of his senior season at Michigan with a broken nose and appendicitis.

Rugg (pictured at top), the Galaxy's first-round pick out of Boston College, started training this week after recovering from a “lingering” groin injury. He also missed much of his senior campaign with a hyperextended knee and hamstring strain. It was tough watching everyone else working on the field.

“I learned to be patient with my injuries this past year, but it's never easy,” he said.

Arena wants to convert Rugg from forward to right-sided midfielder, and he's fine with that.

“I'm definitely comfortable playing outside,” Rugg said. “Even as a center forward, I tend to drift outside. I think l might find I like it better.”

The Ghana-born, South Africa-raised, Niagara Falls-schooled Opare is enjoying his new surroundings. He said his first thought when the Galaxy drafted him was “wow, the weather. Because, obviously, I'm from Canada and went to school at Michigan, and right now it's snowing and freezing cold. I couldn't be happier to come out here.”