Michael Umana

Galaxy sign Costa Rican Umaña

L.A. Galaxy press release

The Los Angeles Galaxy continued the overhaul of their rearguard Friday by signing Costa Rican international Michael Umaña on a multi-year loan deal from Costa Rican side Club Sport Herediano.

Umaña will count as a 2005 Discovery player and a youth international, the Galaxy's second alongside Joseph Ngwenya, and he will join the Galaxy for their preseason trip to Hawaii.

Umaña, a 22-year-old central defender, has recently been rising into the national team picture in Costa Rica. He was called into several training camps for the Ticos in 2004 and made appearances for the nation's under-23 national team, including some under present Galaxy head coach Steve Sampson.

"Michael is a player I had the pleasure watching develop during my time in Costa Rica," said Sampson. "He is a solid marking back whose versatility allows him to play any position on the backline. He is on the cusp of being on the Costa Rican side competing for a place in Germany 2006."

Sampson and the Galaxy are hoping Umaña can bring some defensive success to the Southland, where the backline struggled through a series of injuries in 2004 and finished in the middle of the pack in goals allowed. This offseason, the Galaxy have made several moves to improve their defense, beginning with the acquisition of left-sided defender Todd Dunivant from the San Jose Earthquakes on Jan. 12.

The Galaxy continued their defensive stockpiling at the MLS SuperDraft, taking defenders with both of their first-round selections. Sampson snagged Southern Methodist University defender Ugo Ihemelu with the fifth overall pick and then took University of California-Berkeley defender Troy Roberts with the eighth pick. With Danny Califf undergoing knee surgery Thursday, the addition of Umaña is timely.

If Umaña's recent track record is any indication, the Galaxy may get exactly what they're looking for.

Umaña made four appearances for Costa Rica in the 2004 Olympics in Athens Greece, playing every minute of each match. He was also selected to the Best XI of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, in early 2004 after leading Costa Rica to a spot in the summer games.

On the club scene, Umaña has been just as successful. A five-year veteran of Costa Rica's Primera Division, Umaña started his career with Carmelita and has spent the past two years with Herediano. In the 2004 Torneo Apertura, Umaña helped Herediano to first place in Group A, tallying 11 wins and just one defeat in 16 matches.

Umaña is the first Costa Rican player to join the Galaxy since Roy Myers played for the club in 1999 and 2000.

Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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