LA Galaxy's new forward Samuel getting comfortable with other weapons in attack
CARSON, Calif. – He's still fine-tuning his game, working on fitness and doing all he can to be ready for a very different style of soccer than he's used to, but Samuel said he's prepared to go as the LA Galaxy prepare for their league opener against Real Salt Lake.
The 23-year-old Brazilian forward, brought in on loan from Fluminense, has been getting most of the work alongside Robbie Keane with the first team as preseason camp winds down, and he's expected to be in the lineup Saturday at StubHub Center (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live).
“I feel good,” Samuel said through a translator. “I don't feel it's the ideal of where I want to be at, but for the start of the season I'll be ready.”
The game in America is much faster and more athletic than in Brazil, with tighter defending and an emphasis on physical play, and he admits he won't be certain what it's like until “the season starts and once I'm able to play against the other teams and see what the level is.”
“It's a little different here,” he said. “It's touch-touch-and-go, and over there you pass, you hold and you go. It's definitely slower in Brazil.”
Samuel and Canadian striker Rob Friend were the Galaxy's offseason additions up front, designed to add diversity to an attack that struggled when Keane and/or Landon Donovan were unavailable or off their games. They're both target forwards, but Friend is a pure target striker, and Samuel is more mobile.
“I've been very impressed since he's been here,” Keane said. “He's a goalscorer that likes to play on the shoulder, and I think he will cause defenders a lot of problems.”
Keane said he's worked with Samuel the last few weeks “doing certain stuff, maybe not for me but for Samuel, so he can understand which way I like to play, just so he's aware of what I'm trying to do. He's a clever forward. He makes good runs. I'll certainly be able to pick him out.”
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Donovan and Gyasi Zardes also will be used up front this season – both also play as outside midfielders – and there's young depth with Jack McBean, Chandler Hoffman and Charlie Rugg, who will likely see much more time with the club's USL PRO side.
Samuel has adapted to his new surroundings with help from the Galaxy's other Brazilians: central midfielders Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas and center back Leonardo. All four and their families live in the same building.
“They are family. I feel like they're my brothers,” said Samuel, who played alongside Juninho's brother, Ricardo, at Internacional in Porto Alegre. “We're always together, we're always hanging out, we're always talking. They're always visiting me, or I'm always visiting them.”