The LA Galaxy made a notable change to their starting XI for Sunday’s clash with Real Salt Lake at Dignity Health Sports Park, benching veteran Jorgen Skjelvik and giving Diedie Traore his first career MLS start at the left back position.
The move is a notable one in several respects.
Skjelvik had played all but two minutes of LA’s season thus far and is one of the highest-paid defenders in the league, according to MLS Players Association figures, reportedly making nearly $1 million per year. His MLS career has been a mixed bag so far, however, as the Galaxy have leaked goals since his arrival ahead of the 2018 campaign, during which time the Norwegian has played both center back and left back.
It’s also the latest chapter in Traore’s inspiring story. The 20-year-old Frenchman rose through the academy system at FC Metz but hit a lull in his career after departing that club, and eventually elected to hit the restart button by journeying to Los Angeles in January 2018 to take part in open tryouts held by LA Galaxy II, the club’s USL Championship side.
Traore showed enough in that setting to earn an invitation to train with "Los Dos" and was eventually offered a contract, splitting time with the Galaxy’s USL and Under-19 academy sides.
He signed an MLS deal with LA last month and has now climbed into the mix for a starting role.