I'm excited. Admit it, you are too. Yes you are, otherwise why would you be here reading this?
The season is just around the corner and so many things have happened since Cinderella, ahem, the Los Angeles Galaxy claimed the double with their MLS Cup win Nov. 13. It seems so long ago and so many things have gone down. Time to get caught up on things.
Let's start from the present and go backwards. The MLS SuperDraft went down and from what I gather, the Galaxy did very well restocking the cupboard. The Green and Gold needed a left-sided player so they went with 18-year-old Nathan Sturgis out of Clemson University. This young man already has two years of college experience under his belt. University of Maryland forward Marc Burch was the Galaxy's second selection. Burch has to be on top of the world, having scored the game winner in the NCAA title game just over a month ago. In the third round, head coach Steve Sampson went with defense again as he selected Ohio State defender Kyle Veris. Goalkeeper Chris Dunsheath was the fourth pick for the Galaxy. Can't have too many of those guys. With their final selection, Sampson went with another forward, Aaron King, from North Carolina State.
By all accounts, the Galaxy received passing grades. Some experts even gave the defending champs a B-plus.
Look, I've covered enough drafts to know that the only draft that guarantees you are going to see action is the military draft and, thank goodness, that one is gone. I am sure these young men are going to do everything they can to make a good impression and win a position on the big club for regular season play. I have no doubt about their effort, their heart, and their resumes. Each of these players have impressive accomplishments to hang their hats on.
But this is not 1996. College accolades do not translate into an automatic starting job on this team or any team in Major League Soccer. Just look at the Galaxy bench last season and you'll see players with equal accomplishments to those who will soon take their first steps on The Home Depot Center practice fields. And look a little more and you'll find players with international caps and have donned their countries' colors and played at the highest stage. The man who scored the game-winning goal for the Galaxy in the MLS Cup is a soccer hero in his native Guatemala and captain of his national team. Guillermo "Pando" Ramirez couldn't crack the Galaxy starting lineup after the first eight games of the season and was a surprise sub in the final, although I must admit knowing what I know now it was a pleasant one.
I don't know; maybe I'm watching too much American Idol and Simon's critiques are rubbing off. All I can say to the 2006 class of Galaxy draft picks is welcome. Welcome to a team which has the first face of American soccer in 1996, Cobi Jones, and the current face of American soccer, Landon Donovan. Between them there are five FIFA World Cups. Maybe six if Bruce Arena gives number 13 another call as a super sub. I wouldn't count Cobi out of another World Cup appearance just yet. The point is the best of the best have worn and wear the Galaxy's Green and Gold. To these young men I hope it's an honor to them and a responsibility to uphold the excellence of play, which this organization and its fans have come to expect.
I CALLED THE U.S.-CANADA FRIENDLY ... I must say it was an honor for me to get my second broadcasting cap, if there is such a thing. It looked like a first game of the year. Lots of mistakes, lots of running and running and running and no rhythm. Matt Reis was outstanding in goal. Heath Pearce impressed defensively. Sadly though, I think a couple of players will look back to this game and realize their performance in this one is the reason they'll stay in the states come June. Brian Ching and Taylor Twellman missed on a great chance to impress in this one. I hope I'm wrong.
FREDDY GOT HIS CAP ... It was nice to see. The kid has great confidence. Taking a dive in the penalty area wasn't the best use of his talent though. I like that he's part of this camp. I hope the phrase 'actions speak louder than words' is pasted on his locker and we start seeing the consistency that escapes his game right now.
GIUSEPPE ROSSI ... Who? Oh, that guy. He's the Italian-American kid who'd rather play for Italy than his country of birth, the United States. Being Italian-American myself, my first reaction was of disappointment and I still struggle with it, but I think of Freddy Adu and his desire to play for the colonies instead of his country of birth, Ghana. USA 2, Italy 0. Go get 'em boys. The only Rossi I'm afraid of is Paolo and he was great in 1982.
GOODBYE EARTHQUAKES, HELLO 1836 ... San Jose is gone for now and Houston is in. There has been a lot of fanfare over this move, both soggy diapers in the Bay Area and excitement in the Lone Star State. I was thinking Apollos, as in "Houston, we have a problem." What do I know?
STEVE SAMPSON GOES TO BRAZIL ... I offered to go and help scout the talent. He would go to the fields. I would go to the beaches. He took assistant Billy McNicol instead.
Joe Tutino is in his seventh season as the English radio voice of the Los Angeles Galaxy. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of the Los Angeles Galaxy or Major League Soccer.