Building depth was a priority for LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena heading into Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft.
In selecting center back Tommy Meyer and defensive midfielder Kenney Walker (above), the Galaxy took two key steps in doing just that ahead of the 2012 MLS season.
First-round choice Meyer, a 6-foot-2 defender from Indiana University, could fight for playing time early as he attempts to fill the hole left by Omar Gonzalez’s knee injury.
“He’s got a pretty good background, from one of the premier collegiate soccer programs,” Arena said in a conference call. “He has all the characteristics to become a good professional, has got the right physical requirements to be a good center back in terms of his height, which is important in being a center back.
“We wanted to get a center back with good physical characteristics as well as someone who can play a little bit.”
Arena said the club needed to get deeper at center back regardless of the news of the ACL injury Gonzalez suffered last week.
“We were taking a center back well in advance of Omar suffering an injury,” Arena said. “That was the plan for the draft this year, that we were going to get a center back.”
Meyer, the sixth defender taken in the draft, impressed Arena when the two met prior to the draft.
“Tommy is a very impressive young man, a bright kid, confident, has a burning desire to become a professional,” Arena said. “I walked away from our meeting feeling good about him.”
Walker, meanwhile, did not get a chance to meet with Arena or the Galaxy before the draft. Arena said he felt Walker would be gone by the time LA picked again, with the 39th overall choice. That he was still there caught Arena off guard.
“Kenney Walker absolutely impressed me during the combine – I thought he was one of the better players," Arena noted. "I think he just played very well for three days and I was surprised he was not taken in the first round. We were going to make another selection at the end of the second round, but if he was still available, he was going to be taken.”
A 5-foot-9 midfielder, Walker adds depth at a spot vacated by Juninho.
“He fills a position that we could use a little help with anyway,” Arena said. “He’s a defensive midfielder, good player, good passer of the ball. If you put him in the right environment and with the right attitude, hopefully he’s a player that will grow with the Galaxy and become a good player for us.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.