Los Angeles Soccer: Alex Bruce
CARSON -- Sean Franklin took the field, for real, for the first time this year Monday, taking the next and, he hopes, last step in his recovering from knee surgery last fall.
The 2011 All-Star right back from Palmdale (Highland HS) and Cal State Northridge spent the first week of Galaxy preseason running and working to strengthen his right knee, which he hurt last September, more severely than the club let on.
Franklin, 26, in September underwent a previously unacknowledged surgery to clean debris out of the knee, missing five Major League Soccer and four CONCACAF Champions League matches before returning to action, earlier than he probably should have, in L.A.'s regular-season finale. He started all four MLS playoff games and played in all three matches on the club's postseason tour of Asia and Australia.
“I kind of came in slow last week to strengthen my knee more from last year,” Franklin said. “I did some work over the offseason, some physical therapy, and it's getting stronger. It's almost 100 percent. I felt good to get out there, but I feel tired after my first full practice.”
Fitness still is the priority in camp -- head coach Bruce Arena says it will be until just before the season begins in early March -- but the Galaxy filtered more game-playing situations among the running. It's the first real soccer Franklin has played since the season ended Dec. 6 in Melbourne.
“It's good to have him back on the field,” Arena said. “We didn't give him enough time last year to really come back at 100 percent. We rushed him back from his surgery and brought him back a little bit quick. This time we have he time to give him the proper opportunity to work on getting his strength back, and we've done that. We're just being careful with him.”
Franklin, MLS's Rookie of the Year in 2008, said he “normally” would have “waited the season out” after surgery, “but it was the playoffs, and I wanted to play, and that's how it goes. But normally, I would have rested [the knee] longer.”
The Galaxy might be chasing well-traveled defender Alex Bruce, currently with Leeds United, as they seek a replacement for injured Omar Gonzalez, Sky Sports reports.
L.A. “are in talks with Leeds over the availability” of Bruce, the British broadcaster reported on its website Tuesday, citing sources who “understand” such conversations are taking place.
The Galaxy, which began its preseason preparations Monday, are in dire need of a central defender who can step in for Gonzalez, Major League Soccer's Defender of the Year, who likely will miss most if not all of the 2012 MLS season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Jan. 5 at the start of a short-term loan deal to German club FC Nuremberg.
Galaxy coach/general manager Bruce Arena said Monday that finding a replacement for Gonzalez was a preseason focus.
“We have certain holes we have to solidify, so that will be part of the preseason strategy,” Arena said. Which holes? “Obviously, the center-back position.”
Bruce, 27, has played for four English clubs and been loaned to five more on six occasions since emerging from Blackburn's academy system in 2004. He began his first-team career with Blackburn, went to Birmingham City the following year, then spent five seasons at Ipswich Town before joining second-tier Leeds United in 2010. He has played for Oldham Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday, Tranmere Rovers, Leicester City and Huddersfield Town on loan deals.