Captain Vagenas moves L.A. forward

Landon Donovan has worn the captain's armband for the U.S. national team. Guillermo Ramirez has worn the captain's armband for the Guatemalan national team. But for the Los Angeles Galaxy however, it's Peter Vagenas who carries the title of captain.

That honor was bestowed upon Vagenas by Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson. Sampson said his decision was an easy one.

"He's got the respect of the entire coaching staff and players," said Sampson. "He's an intelligent guy. He's very disciplined."

That added responsibility seems to have brought more confidence to the Pasadena, Calif., native on the field. This year, Galaxy fans have enjoyed watching Vagenas get into the attack with more regularity than he did all of last year. He nearly opened up his goal scoring account against RSL last week, but saw his effort strike the crossbar.

Vagenas knows that there is a lot more expected of him this year.

"(Going forward) is something Steve's challenged me to add to my game," said Vagenas. "He'd like me to get forward more which is something I welcome."

Over his career, Vagenas has scored just six goals, and all of those came in his first two seasons. Vagenas has already showed a bit of a scorer's touch this season though. He scored twice in a preseason exhibition game against USL PDL (fourth tier) side Fresno Fuego.

Last season was a tumultuous one for Vagenas, as he spent most of the season battling injuries. This season will mark his sixth year, all of which have been spent in Los Angeles. It will also mark the first full season with coach Sampson.

Sampson became the Galaxy head coach towards the tail end of last year, replacing Sigi Schmid midseason, and as with any coaching change, the changing of the guard brought about some discontent in the locker room last season. This season's team is Sampson's team, and the Galaxy boss is hoping that Vagenas will serve as a middleman for him.

"He's a great liaison between the players and the coaching staff," Sampson said.

With so many personalities and nationalities represented in this season's version of the Green-and-Gold, there are bound to be some ripples during the course of the year.

Vagenas's calm, cool playing style, indicative of his personality off the field, should make him the man to smooth things out when problems arise in the locker room. And for Steve Sampson, he's just fine letting his veteran midfielder do that job.

Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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