CARSON, Calif. – Christian Wilhelmsson can't wait to contribute to the LA Galaxy's stretch drive, but he knows he must be patient. There are fitness issues to deal with first, but once those are out of the way, watch out.
“I hope I can make something,” Wilhelmsson (above) said Thursday, the day after the club announced it had signed the Swedish national team winger. “I hope I can make a difference in games and will try to do my best to help the team, and I'm very excited to get on the field and to help them.”
He could make his debut a week from Friday against Colorado at the Home Depot Center, where he says he hopes he “can help the team in some ways with my experience or my way of playing.”
That's exactly what LA are looking for.
“His résumé sort of speaks for itself,” Galaxy captain Landon Donovan said following Thursday's training session at the HDC. “I think it's low-risk and potentially high-reward for us. We're fortunate at this club that we get a number of players that reach out and want to play here. It's a big advantage for us, and if he can help us along the way, it will be great.”
Wilhelmsson said in the past year he has “had in mind that maybe I will try the MLS if I get the opportunity, and now it came.” The Galaxy is “a great club, you see, they show LA games [on television] even in Europe,” and there's something to be said for playing alongside David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan.
Wilhelmsson's contract with Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia expired in August, and his representatives were soon in contact with the Galaxy, who were more than intrigued.
“We were made aware of the fact he could possibly be available,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “I think he felt that this would be an experience he'd have interest in, and we were able to work it out. It wasn't easy, but we were able to make things work.”
The 32-year-old veteran trained with the Galaxy last Friday, played 58 minutes in Tuesday's Reserve League loss at San Jose, and the deal was announced Wednesday. He's not in game shape – he last played in Sweden's Aug. 15 loss to Brazil, and before that at Euro 2012 – and is treating his first few weeks with the club as if in preseason.
The Galaxy hope he can make an impact as quickly as possible.
“I think he's a player with a lot more experience playing in wide positions, understands that, is comfortable playing there,” Arena said. “That's something I think our team can use.”