CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy brought Rob Friend home from Europe to add some punch to their attack, and the Canadian target forward offered a glimpse of what he can do in Wednesday's closed-door match with Chivas USA, scoring a nifty first goal in a 2-2 draw at StubHub Center.
LA hope it's the first of many for the 33-year-old striker who, with his 6-foot-5 frame, offers something the Galaxy haven't had since Edson Buddle's departure – and, really, for some time before that.
“I'm a different type of player than I think the team has had in a while,” said Friend, who signed in mid-January from Eintracht Frankfurt – he spent the last year on loan to 1860 Munich – after 11 years on the continent, playing for clubs in Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. “I'm a big target man; they know what they're getting.
"I'm not going to take the ball on the half and dribble 10 guys, but I play with my size, and I think the team's been needing that in the last couple years, different variations up front, and I can use my body and my size, and I'm a box player and I score goals.”
He scored a fine one just five minutes into the Galaxy's second preseason match of the winter, collecting a free kick from Juninho to the right of the net and slotting it into the far-post netting. Juninho also tallied for LA – a trademark strike from distance in the 20th minute – before Chivas rallied with second-half goals by Jacob Barron and Matt Fondy.
“It's a friendly, so, obviously, [the goal is] not that important, but as a striker and early on in the preseason, it's nice to get a goal,” Friend said afterward. “Goals come and go. When they start coming, it gets easier, they come easier, they go in easier. It's nice to show other people that I'm confident in what I can do for the season.”
He and Brazilian loanee Samuel, who had a goal in LA's closed-door, 3-0 victory Saturday over the USL PRO's LA Blues, were added to the roster to bring greater diversity and experience to the Galaxy attack, which struggled when Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan weren't available or lacked sharpness. And the addition of Swedish wide midfielder Stefan Ishizaki – who did well finding Friend against Chivas – also is meant to help in that regard.
“He's a winger that likes to put the ball in the box,” Friend said. “I'm a striker who likes to get in the box and get on the end of them. So it's perfect.”
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Friend attended UC Santa Barbara, and his wife is from Manhattan Beach, so Los Angeles is home, he says, and “I'm waking up happy every day and really grateful to be here.”
He has Bundesliga experience with Borussia Mönchengladbach and helped Hertha Berlin return to the top flight in 2011, but MLS always was in his sights. Coming to the Galaxy, he said, was “all about timing.”
“I didn't want to come back when I was too old,” he said. “I think I've got a lot to give still, and, you know, after 11 years in Europe, it was good timing to come back. Hopefully, I have enough in me to contribute.”