Galaxy sign Saragosa, trade Kirovski
CARSON, Calif. - The Los Angeles Galaxy made a pair of major moves Tuesday in bolstering their lineup for the stretch run toward the MLS Cup Playoffs, re-acquiring midfielder Marcelo Saragosa from Brazilian club Sao Paulo FC while trading striker Jovan Kirovski to the Colorado Rapids.
Saragosa, who was with the Galaxy last season, will return to the Green and Gold on a full transfer from Sao Paulo. Kirovski was traded to the Rapids for a first-round pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft.
The Saragosa move comes without much surprise, as rumors of his return to the Southland have circulated for weeks now. But where the Brazilian-born player will fit into the team dynamic does raise questions.
Saragosa plays in the center of the park as a holding midfielder, a position that has been manned this year by fellow Brazilian and Sao Paulo product Paulo Nagamura. Nagamura's partner in the center of the midfield has been Galaxy captain Pete Vagenas.
If Saragosa is expected to contribute this season, one of the two is likely to be the odd man out. Still, it's a problem that head coach Steve Sampson is happy to have and doesn't see becoming an issue for several weeks.
"I think if we're looking to close out a game I wouldn't hesitate putting two holding midfielders in there," Sampson said about the prospect of having Nagamura and Saragosa playing side by side. "I think that would add some much needed ability to close things down in midfield. In the short term no, but definitely two or three weeks down the road."
Saragosa's fitness level won't be in question when he arrives in L.A. on Wednesday. It's his form that will need to come around, as he hasn't played 11-a-side soccer in several weeks. Still, the familiarity with the Galaxy that he developed last season should ease his transition.
In the Galaxy's other move announced today, Kirovski is headed to conference rival Colorado. The move came as a bit of a surprise, but educated speculation suggests that the recent play of young striker Herculez Gomez played a part in this move.
In a conference call Tuesday, Galaxy GM Doug Hamilton announced the trade and was quick to comment on the contributions made by Kirovski in his time with the Galaxy.
"Let me begin by thanking Jovan for his commitment to our club. You can tell by interacting with him and the way he handles himself that he has been involved in very big clubs and competitions over the course of his career. We certainly wish him well," Hamilton said.
Hamilton then went on to explain the benefits the move will have on the future of the club. Hamilton said the move frees up salary cap room that the club can use in the future, while the draft pick also allows the Galaxy to look towards the future. Lastly, the move frees up a senior roster spot that the Galaxy plan to fill within the next 48 hours. The Galaxy is looking within the organization for that player.
"This is going to allow us to reward a player on the developmental squad that has certainly proven his importance and value, which I think is a great message to all developmental players with the Galaxy," said Hamilton. "If you come in and get the job done, L.A. is going to find a way to reward you, and we're thrilled to be able to do that."
While Hamilton wouldn't comment on who that player is while contract negotiations are still in the works, it seems obvious that it will go to Gomez. Gomez is second on the Galaxy in scoring behind Landon Donovan and is currently a developmental player. When asked if the spot will go to Gomez, Hamilton wouldn't confirm or deny, but said that speculation wouldn't be unfounded.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.