Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Los Angeles Soccer [Print without images]

Monday, January 23, 2012
GALAXY: Retired Kirovski joins staff

By Scott French

CARSON -- Jovan Kirovski has moved from one spot on the Galaxy's bench to another, trading in his shorts and cleats to join Bruce Arena's staff following an at-times glorious two-decade playing career.


The veteran midfielder, who spent five seasons in two stints with the Galaxy in an eight-year MLS career that followed spells with big clubs in England, Germany and Portugal, was unveiled as a new assistant coach when L.A. opened its preseason camp Monday at Home Depot Center.

Jovan Kirovski
Jovan Kirovski
“Bruce called me a month ago, put it out there,” said Kirovski, who last season played just 244 minutes over 13 regular-season games and saw action in 21 first-team games, all competitions and friendlies. “Actually, I was really excited, and it was a great opportunity, and I love being around the club. It was a no-brainer for me.”

“I had to get him off the field somehow ...,” joked Arena, who brought Kirovski in as he began his rebuild following the 2008 season. “He's obviously a very experienced guy, he knows our club, he knows the way we do things. He's prepared himself to get into coaching. He's earned his coaching license. I think it's a good transition for Jovan, and I think he'll be a great addition to our staff.”

Kirovski, 35, replaces Gregg Berhalter, who served as player/assistant coach last year, retired as a player at season's end and has become head coach of Swedish club Hammarby.

The son of Macedonian immigrants decided when last season ended that he was done playing, although he never acknowledged so publicly, and Arena's admission last week that he would not be returning to the roster was the first concrete sign he'd retired.

“I thought about it at the end of the year. I knew it was time,” Kirovski said. “I've played the game such a long time, and it was a great way to finish [with a championship]. I knew the time was right.”

Kirovski, a withdrawn forward until later in his career, joined Manchester United's academy, where he played alongside David Beckham, when he was 16, and he's the only American with a UEFA Champions League winners' medal, claimed in 1997 with Borussia Dortmund. After stints with Sporting Lisbon and back in England with Crystal Palace and Birmingham City, he joined the Galaxy in 2004 and moved on to Colorado in 2005 and  and San Jose in 2008.

He made 188 MLS appearances, with 31 goals and 15 assists, and played 62 times for the U.S. national team with nine goals, including a stunning strike in a 3-0 rout of Germany in February 1999.

He's been planning to go into coaching, getting his B license three years ago and just completing his A license.

“I have a passion for the game. I love the game,” said Kirovski, who commutes daily from Escondido, his San Diego County hometown. “I've been a pro for 20 years, played under Alex Ferguson [at Manchester United], Ottmar Hitzfeld [at Borussia Dortmund], Bruce Arena. So I've been associated with big coaches in a lot of different countries, different cultures. So I'll bring a different aspect to the game. ...

“I definitely wanted [to be a coach], and it's great to have the opportunity to do that. Especially [with] the Galaxy. I played here five years, I know everybody here, I love being around the club. I'm from Southern California, so I'm proud to be associated with this club. I'm happy.”

BARRETT RUNNING: Chad Barrett missed the MLS Cup final (and postseason trip to Asia and Australia) after grotesquely dislocating his ankle. He's not ready for ball work yet, but soon.

“I got really lucky with my injury,” said the former UCLA star, who was set to partner Robbie Keane up front in the title win over Houston when his cleats got caught in the turf during a training session 10 days before the game. “It was bad timing -- I couldn't imagine a worse time for it to happen -- but I really lucked out. There were no ligament tears, no fractures, so it was only, like, a two-month injury. I'm already running.”

Barrett rehabbed the injury during the offseason and has been running without pain since shortly after New Year's, can cut softly or with planned movements -- no abrupt cuts yet -- and says he hopes to be touching the ball in about two weeks. He ought to be good to go by the Galaxy's first real game, the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal opener March 7 at Toronto FC.

ELSEWHERE: In other MLS news ...