Los Angeles Soccer: Omar Salgado
It's been a difficult campaign for veteran defender Gregg Berhalter, who sees his playing career nearing its end and wishes he could spend more of the remaining time on the field rather than the trainer's room.
The center back, who will be 38 in August, missed the second half of preseason and most of the first three months with a knee injury and didn't make play in a league game until the final minutes of the Galaxy's victory Saturday night at Colorado.
On Monday, he saw 90 minutes for the third successive MLS Reserve League game and, even better, scored the first goal in a 2-1 triumph over the Vancouver Whitecaps on L.A.'s training field outside Home Depot Center's main stadium, volleying home Paolo Cardozo's 27th-minute feed.
“It's been very disappointing [this year],” Berhalter said afterward. “The knee injury took a lot longer than I thought. The preseason was going great, and it's part of it. At some point, you think, listen, you're getting toward the end and you want it to go like a storybook, you know? But it's not always going to happen. You have to deal with what's given to you, and that's what I'm doing right now.”
Berhalter has been a major contributor to the Galaxy since signing with MLS in 2009 following 15 seasons in Holland, England and Germany. But he was sidelined with an unexplained injury or virus last August and saw only incremental action at the end of the regular season and in the MLS playoffs.
He was added to Bruce Arena's coaching staff during the offseason, so he's had had plenty of work to do while rehabbing his knee and preparing to step in when called upon.
“That's been the positive side, that I was still able to help the team in a certain way, so I'm thankful for that,” he said. “But personally, not being on the field, I've thought about that. I played my first 10 minutes in 18 games [on Saturday]. It's disappointing for me, personally, but you still try to stay positive and work hard, and hopefully things will come.”
Weighted lotteries dispersed three top young players into the league. Two of them have the potential to be big stars. The third is a highly regarded outside back pegged for a long, productive career.
Former University of Virginia forward Chris Agorsor, who also has star potential, went to Philadelphia, and teen right back Korey Veeder was picked up by Columbus.
Neither the Galaxy nor Chivas USA entered the lotteries, for which a team's chances are based on its record in its past 30 games in relation to the other teams involved.
Arnoux, who scored 32 goals in his sophomore and junior seasons at Wake Forest, returned last summer from a year with English club Everton's reserves and seemed to settle in nicely with the Vancouver Whitecaps in their final season as a D2 club.
That's what the Whitecaps figured: They tried to sign Arnoux for their MLS side, but the league wouldn't have it. MLS uses lotteries for players coming out of college who sign after the draft or for players who previously turned down a league offer. Arnoux had been aggressively pursued before he left Wake Forest following his junior season, so to Friday's lottery he went.
RSL won despite just a 5.4 percent chance of success.
“Miracles never cease,” quipped GM Garth Lagerwey to MLS's website.
Arnoux is renowned for his work rate and his nose for the net, and he said he hoped he could step in for Robbie Findley, the World Cup forward who moved to England's Nottingham Forest.
“I never stop working -- that’s what I build my game around,” Arnoux told the league's website. “I’m not the guy who’s going to make the right pass every time or make the right decision. But I’m good in front of goal and have confidence in front of goal and that has to be built back up because I’ve been off for a while.
“I’m a hard worker, and that’s something English fans like. Even though I wasn’t playing with [Everton's] first team, they appreciated that a lot, and I know American fans appreciate that a lot. That’s the kind of player I am. I’ve not always been the best, but I’ve always had to try to work harder to beat everyone else.”
Chivas got one of the prizes in the draft, taking with the fourth overall pick versatile defender Zarek Valentin -- among seven players selected from NCAA champion Akron -- then traded allocation money for another first-round selection and nabbed Ecuadoran forward Victor Estupiņan with the 14th pick.
Barrett, coach Bruce Arena said, is “an experienced player in MLS who has scored goals” -- 38 in six seasons -- “a player that we can certainly expect a lot more out of him than the [available forwards] we'd be taking out of the draft.”
The Galaxy took Uruguayan midfielder Paolo Cardozo with the 16th overall selection and Cal midfielder Hector Jimenez, from Bell Gardens (Bell Gardens HS), with the 33rd pick.
“We think they have some qualities we don't have in our team …” Arena said. “We need to be patient and place them in the right environment to develop to help our team. We're not expecting young, inexperienced players of this nature to step on the field and have an [immediate] impact.”
Arena said the Galaxy declined the option on winger Alex Cazumba's loan from Sao Paulo, but that Brazilian midfielder Juninho and defender Leonardo's loan deals had been extended.
Several teams, the Galaxy included, could be looking to move up in the draft -- the first half-dozen or so players would help anybody, and there are a few more role players available in a class that might be better than first thought.
The draft has shrunk to just three rounds -- 54 picks -- but those not selected will be available in a four-round supplemental draft Tuesday.
And on to the picks:
Anibaba, skilled and smooth, is a center back with some of the qualities possessed by Robin Fraser, Chivas' new head coach. Sarkodie is ready to step in at right back -- he's a brazen attacker, but there are questions about his defensive game. Valentin, the brother of former Galaxy defender Julian Valentin, is most versatile.
Chivas has plenty of needs, and Fraser could decide to go for a forward -- there are at least a half-dozen who are highly regarded -- or a creative midfielder, but the best value will be at the back.
SELECTIONS: 2 (1st round, No. 4; 3rd round, No. 40)
PRIMARY NEEDS: Just about everything, except perhaps central midfielders -- and maybe wingers, if Rodolfo Espinoza is re-signed. Watch for a top-line central defender, who can learn from Jimmy Conrad, or an attack-minded outside back to arrive with the first pick, although there are a couple of forwards who might prove too enticing.
POTENTIAL TARGETS: Anibaba, Sarkodie or Valentin are the best bets, but Texas-born forward Omar Salgado, just 17, would be a most fitting addition. He comes from the Chivas family -- he was in Guadalajara's youth ranks but was forced to leave when he committed his international future to the U.S. He's 6-foot-4 with tremendous upside. ... Two other forwards who might be considered are Ecuadorans Joao Plata, just 5-3 but with magic in his feet, and Victor Estupian. ... Tulsa wing-forward Ashley McInnes' stock dropped during the combine, but he might be a steal if he's still around at No. 40.
Major League Soccer's technical staffs are in Fort Lauderdale the next four days to assess top draft prospects at the league's annual combine. Seventy players have been divided among four teams, and doubleheaders will be played Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.
The draft, with three rounds of 18 picks apiece, is Thursday in Baltimore. Chivas USA has the fourth overall selection, and the Galaxy will pick 16th.
Ten players, nine of them college underclassmen plus 17-year-old forward Omar Salgado, who signed with the league when he was forced to depart Club Deportivo Guadalajara after committing to the U.S. under-20 national team, are on Generation adidas contracts and will count neither against the roster size nor salary cap for the clubs that select them. GA players traditionally are among the most talented and coveted in the draft.
The list includes UC Santa Barbara junior Michael Tetteh, a Ghanaian midfielder who prepped at the Dunn School in Los Olivos. Five GAs -- including Darlington Nagbe and Perry Kitchen, widely seen as the top two prospects in the draft -- come from NCAA champion Akron. Also among the group is defender Zarek Valentin, whose brother, Julian, was a defender for the Galaxy in 2008-09.
Four GAs -- Salgado, Kitchen, Valentin and Maryland goalkeeper Zac MacMath -- will miss the combine while playing for the U.S. U-20s. Nagbe, who on Friday won the Hermann Trophy as college soccer's top player, also will skip the conbine.
Five foreign players who did not play at U.S. colleges are in the combine, including forward John Rooney, the brother of Manchester United superstar Wayne Rooney. John Rooney spent time on trial with the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers to prepare for the draft.