Panamanian goalkeeper Jaime Penedo says he shunned offers from Mexico and Europe to sign with the LA Galaxy, and he could debut with his new club as soon as Wednesday, when they face AC Milan in the International Champions Cup (6:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
Penedo, 31, whose signing was announced Monday, spent the past six seasons with Guatemalan power Municipal after starring at home with Árabe Unido and stints in Italy with Cagliari and in Spain with Osasuna.
“I was contracted in Guatemala for a long time,” Penedo said in an interview the Galaxy posted on YouTube. “I had opportunities to go to other places but ended up staying there. I then became a free agent, then I got offers from teams in Mexico and Europe, but when I heard that the LA Galaxy was a possibility, I got really excited. That's why I decided to come here.”
Penedo, Panama's No. 1 goalkeeper most of the past decade, was one of the stars of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, helping the Canaleros to a championship-game appearance against the US. His countryman Blas Pérez plays for FC Dallas.
He's the fourth goalkeeper on the Galaxy roster, and with starter Carlo Cudicini nursing a minor back injury, head coach Bruce Arena could give him experience with LA's backline against Milan before they return to league play next weekend.
“He's a good goalkeeper,” Arena said from Miami, where the Galaxy are preparing for their final ICC outing. “I followed him for years in Panama. He's got a lot of experience, he probably has between 85 and 90 international caps. We think he'll strengthen the goal position for us.”
Penedo, who has 89 caps, arrived in Southern California on Friday and the next day watched the Galaxy beat Juventus at Dodger Stadium. The team traveled Sunday to Miami, where they will meet Milan in the third-place game, and the goalkeeper trained with LA for the first time Monday. He is eligible to play Wednesday, because it is an exhibition, and can suit up for league matches once his P1 visa and International Transfer Certificate are in hand.
Cudicini was inconsistent the first half of the season but has been at his best the past month or so. Brian Rowe has made two league starts and went the full 90 in both of LA's ICC matches, a loss last Thursday to Real Madrid and Saturday's victory over Juve. Brian Perk, the nominal No. 2 the past two seasons, has missed much of this season with injuries and has been dealing with concussions for a good part of the past two months.
“It's a great privilege to be part of such a great team in MLS,” Penedo said. “I expect to work accordingly. ... I'm a fan of hard work and to do things the right way. I strive to quickly integrate myself with the team. I've had a really good reception here. I don't have a single complaint. I didn't know what to expect. In reality, it's been great. I feel very comfortable here, and I'm enjoying it.”