CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- Walker Zimmerman finished the second day of the US men's national team January camp in a familiar position: standing just in front of goalkeeper Tyler Miller and a few paces from Christian Ramirez.
For the bulk of the last year, the center back trained beside his two teammates when the three of them were donning Black & Gold.
“I’m hopeful it’s LAFC,” said the currently out-of-contract Zimmerman when asked where he would be playing his club soccer in 2019. “We’re obviously in talks and I think we’re working towards a deal.”
LAFC brought Zimmerman aboard to anchor the backline after the club had signed El Tri star Carlos Vela. The Georgia native had spent six MLS seasons at FC Dallas and was called up to represent the USMNT for the first time in January 2017 by then-coach Bruce Arena. He scored his first international goal in a friendly against Bolivia in May of last year.
As his contract negotiations proceed, Zimmerman put a positive spin on the uncertainty and limbo of being without a club at the moment, channeling his focus into the national side.
“Sure, I am not signed with anyone but I am able to prepare for whatever preseason is next here with the national team,” he said. “2019 is an extremely important year with the US, so my focus is, how can I develop here how can I improve my fitness, my style of play, how can I adapt to what Gregg is bringing to the table and then put myself in a good position whenever I return to a club team.”
The 25-year-old appeared 26 times in regular season play for LAFC last season, contributing four goals and working to put the club into the playoffs in their first year, where they crashed out to Real Salt Lake after a late own-goal deflection that came off Zimmerman.
Despite the disappointing ending to the season, the center back suggested Tuesday that LAFC could be ideal for the next stage of his career.
“They made it an organization that you want to be a part of so that’s a big factor whenever you’re in negotiations or you’re out of contract,” he said. “For me it was positive and I think that goes a long way in terms of future aspirations.”
Even with rumors in recent months linking him to a possible move abroad, Zimmerman discussed the appeal of staying at LAFC.
“It’s a great club, great staff, great teammates. It’s a place I would love to be and I think we’re definitely heading in the right direction so I think the hope is to head back to LA.”
Though he’s been able to travel a bit over the holidays, Zimmerman admitted the offseason had been stressful because of the contract negotiations.
“Living in that limbo is, to me, a little stressful especially when you’re married and you have a family to think about,” he added. “At the end of the day, just being able to stay in LA, I know it’s a place my wife and I would love to be, so I’m really hopeful that we get something done.”