MLS SuperDraft: Galaxy roster taking shape as dust settles
CARSON, Calif. -- The LA Galaxy took care of roster needs and depth with their selections in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, but Bruce Arena's attention as he prepares for Monday's opening of training camp isn't solely focused on the young newcomers.
He now has full control of midfield catalyst Juninho's future as well as that of star forward Robbie Keane; has finally acknowledged interest in English midfielder Frank Lampard, whom reports have on the verge of an agreement; has made plans to sit down this weekend for discussions with Landon Donovan, who is expected to return; and says he's ready to talk contract extension with star center back Omar Gonzalez, whose current pact runs out at the end of next season, with European interest likely to follow.
LA picked up Boston College forward Charlie Rugg, Michigan center back Kofi Opare and Louisville left back Greg Cochrane in the SuperDraft, selections Arena said “kind of fill needs to balance out our roster. They're young, promising players, and we'll do our best to work with them and try to move them forward as players. ... All of them will need a little time, but there's an upside with all of them.”
The Galaxy had targeted Rugg, whom Arena wants to see on the right side of midfield, and Opare, whom he said “has all the DNA of a center back, a good, strong center back.” Cochrane also can play at left back.
Their additions give LA 27 players, not counting unsigned goalkeeper Will Hesmer, and Arena said they will “still look to bring in possibly one or two international players” -- Lampard perhaps one of those -- in addition to three selections in Tuesday's supplemental draft. They'll need to be down to 30 by the March 1 compliance date.
Among those not returning: goalkeeper Josh Saunders, whom Arena said would not be in camp next week; Brazilian center back David Júnior Lopes, acquired last April in a trade from Chivas USA and out of contract; and third-year midfielder Dan Keat, a New Zealand international also out of contract. Arena last month said midfielder Kyle Nakazawa, whose option was not exercised, would be in camp as a non-roster invitee.
Gonzalez, who anchors the Galaxy defense, said Thursday from the US national team's camp at the Home Depot Center that he had not had talks with the club about extending his contract, and Arena, when told of the remarks, said he was ready for such a discussion.
“We would gladly spend time with Omar and his agent and discuss an extension to his contract,” Arena told local media on a conference call. “We have no issues with that. ... This isn't the time we're talking a [Designated Player contract for Gonzalez], but we will be glad to talk to them at any point about extending the contract.”
He said he hoped to find at least a couple of players in the supplemental draft who can compete for roster spots, and “if there are local players who can help us fill a need, we're certainly going to have our eye on them.”
Among top local players not selected Thursday are UCLA midfielder Evan Raynr (from Calabasas) and Cal State Northridge right back Joe Franco (from Monrovia).