Last year's rookie, this year's teacher
Being the small fish in a big pond can be quite intimidating -- just like, say, the first day of high school. Every year in Major League Soccer, a new crop of rookies gets to experience those same feelings all over again.
Adjusting to a new city and new teammates, let alone adjusting to the speed and physicality of the professional ranks can be pretty overwhelming for a young player. That's why for Mubarike "Mamba" Chisoni, having a good friend already on the Los Angeles Galaxy was a welcome relief.
Joseph Ngwenya was a rookie with Los Angeles last year, so when his club side drafted his long-time friend, he was more than happy to help bring him into the fold.
Both Ngwenya and Chisoni call Zimbabwe their native country. Having grown up near each other back home, the pair was reunited at Coastal Carolina University to play college soccer, where they were roommates for two years.
Chisoni said his transition from college to the MLS has been a relatively smooth one.
"It was easy for me to adjust having Joe here," Chisoni said. "He helped me out telling me where to go and what to do."
The relationship the two friends share off the field often translates on the field, as the two have some sort of unspoken chemistry in the game binding them together.
"We have an understanding," said Chisoni. "We know where each other are on the field."
Ngwenya echoed those sentiments, hoping that the addition of Chisoni will help his game too.
"It's always good to have someone you're used to playing with on the field," Ngwenya said.
Last year as a rookie, Ngwenya netted four goals and added two assists for the Galaxy. This year his goals are rather simple.
"I'd like to get a few more goals, and help the team however I can," he said.
Mamba's goals are even more basic. "I want to prove to everyone that I belong on this team," he said.
So far in the early stages of the season, Chisoni has seen more of the field, being used by Galaxy coach Steve Sampson as an early second-half sub in both of the Galaxy's first two games. In fact, Chisoni was one of the few bright spots the Galaxy could take away from their first week disaster in Columbus, a 3-0 loss.
Ngwenya has gotten less action, but has also seen action in both games. He showed he could be ready to make a larger impression in Sampson's first team after scoring twice in a 4-2 reserve team victory against Real Salt Lake's reserves this past weekend.
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.