Los Angeles Soccer: Indiana
Tommy Meyer had been a Galaxy defender all of five minutes before the tweet landed. Landon Donovan, from the other side of the Atlantic, officially welcomed Meyer to the club with a simple “Let's welcome [Meyer] to the Galaxy family/defense!” on his Twitter account.
Meyer, a 6-foot-2 central defender from Indiana University whom L.A nabbed with the final selection of the first round in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, hadn't even had a chance to read it -- just texts from friends telling him about it (and expressing shock he was joining the biggest soccer club in America) -- when he made the gantlet of media calls, but it certainly got the point home: He wasn't going just anywhere.
“There are world-class players there, with Landon and [David] Beckham and Robbie Keane,” Meyer, 22, told ESPN Los Angeles. “Those are players I grew up watching. The chance to get to train with them, you couldn't ask for more than that. ... It's definitely something I didn't expect, but I'm really excited to get to work, and to join the team that won MLS Cup is definitely something.”
Kenney Walker got the treatment an hour or so later -- Donovan's tweet: “And finally, welcome Kenney Walker to the family!” -- as the Galaxy wrapped a productive day that turned out better than they thought it would.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena says a center back was always in the plans, even before Omar Gonzalez tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last week at the start of his FC Nuremberg loan. Meyer was considered one of the better second-level central defenders in the draft.
Walker, a skillful central midfielder out of Louisville, was the surprise prize. The Galaxy's coach didn't expect him to still be around when the 38th (and final) pick in the SuperDraft came around.
Mayer, Arena says, has “has all the characteristics to become a good professional. ... We wanted a center back with physical characteristics. ... Tommy is a very impressive young man, a bright kid, confident, with a burning desire to be successful. I walked away from our meeting [at the MLS Player Combine] feeling very good about him.”
Walker, primarily a defensive midfielder with skill and creative instinct, “absolutely impressed me during the combine,” Arena said. “One of the better players on the whole. He just played really well. I was surprised he wasn't picked in the first round.”
Gonzalez, had he not been hurt (and once healthy), appears destined for Europe, and Juninho's departure, even with the arrival of Brazilian Marcelo Sarvas, leaves a hole in midfeld. Meyer and Walker hope they can contribute right away, but they're moves for the future, providing depth while maturing into productive professionals under the tutelage of a veteran side possessing significant standards.
“I don't think at this point in our program we expect that out of our draft picks,” Arena said. “I think both are capable players, and it's maybe a case where Tommy has to play a little bit more in the early going. We'll see.”
GOLETA -- Akron should have won the NCAA men's soccer title a year ago. The Zips made amends Sunday, dominating top-ranked Louisville in the College Cup final at UC Santa Barbara and holding on for a 1-0 triumph.
Louisville (20-1-3), massively outplayed, especially in the second half, was unfortunate not to win. The Cardinals were denied a clear penalty kick midway through the first half and nearly netted a late winner, halted only by two desperation saves.
Akron (22-1-2), which fell on penalties to Virginia in last year's final, dictated nearly every phase of play in the second half, using a weaving passing game to trigger waves of attacks and spend most of half in or in front of Louisville's box.
It led to eight corner kicks in the half, and Scott Caldwell finished off one of them in the 79th minute.
Bests, worsts and so forth:
BEST PLAYER: Darlington Nagbe's finishing touch was off, but he was at the heart of Akron's attack all day, opening space for teammates and teaming with playmaker Anthony Ampaipitakwong to connect the dots through Louisville's defense. He set up chances by Michael Nanchoff and Darren Mattocks and fired just wide of the post, but our favorite moment: Nagbe, surrounded at midfield, twirls out of trouble and streaks forward, feeding Kofi Sarkodie on the right flank. The sequence ended with a foul, and the Zips did nothing with the free kick.
Three more we liked: Austin Berry, the backbone of Louisville's backline; Ampaipitakwong, the faux-hawked maestro who makes the Zips zip; and Nanchoff, the left-footer next to “Ampai” whose crosses cause havoc.