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Thursday, December 22, 2011
GALAXY: Sao Paulo wants Juninho

By Scott French

Juninho's time in Southern California might be over amid reports that Sao Paulo plans to keep him after two years' seasoning with the Galaxy.

The 22-year-old midfielder, who played a prominent role in L.A.'s successes this season in Major League Soccer and the CONCACAF Champions League, earlier this week signed a three-year contract extension with the Brazilian giant, which had loaned him to the Galaxy the past two years.

The Galaxy had been trying to acquire Juninho, who in November said he wanted to stay in L.A.

Fabio Mello, the player's agent, told Brazil's Globo media group that the club plans to use Juninho in its first team “and we agreed for him to stay.”

Galaxy coach/general manager Bruce Arena has not responded to requests earlier this week for comment, and he was not available Thursday.

L.A. could lose both of its starting central midfielders in the space of a week. David Beckham, Juninho's partner in the middle, must decide whether to re-sign with the Galaxy or accept a lucrative offer from Paris Saint-Germain.

Arena already has lined up once replacement, acquiring Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas from Costa Rican power Alajuelense.

UPDATE (7:45 p.m.): Juninho has confirmed, via his Twitter account, that he will be playing for Sao Paulo. In successive posts, he tweeted, “I want to thank Galaxy and all of my fans for your kindness and support for the past two years that I was on the team” and “I will always have a place for you in my heart. I want to let you know that I have decided to re-sign with Sao Paulo fc.”

WORTH NOTING: The March 7 first leg of the Galaxy's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Toronto FC will be played at the Rogers Centre, the retractable-roofed home to baseball's Blue Jays and the Canadian Football League's Argonauts.  The decision not to play at BMO Field, TFC's facility, is all about “the unpredictability of March’s weather conditions,” a club official said in a statement. The second leg is March 14 at Home Depot Center. ... L.A. expects to announce several signings in the next week, a combination of re-signings and contracts for players taken in last week's second-stage re-entry draft. The first are anticipated Friday. ... Former Galaxy assistant coach Trevor James, who departed last offseason to join John Spencer's staff in Portland, has left the Timbers. No reason was given. ... Swedish reports say former Galaxy defender/assistant coach Gregg Berhalter, now in charge at Hammarby, has targeted playmaking midfielder Baggio Husidic, whom Colorado drafted from Chicago in last week's second-stage re-entry draft.

ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news ...