This is Part Two in a list of players that will be joining the Los Angeles Galaxy this season.
Ever heard of that cheesy '80s song called "Relax"? The infectious chorus goes something along these lines.
"Relax, don’t do it
When you want to go to it
Relax, don’t do it
When you want to come
Relax, don’t do it
When you want to sock it to it
Relax ,don’t do it
When you want to come..."
Frankie Hejduk did. And he's going to Hollywood.
Well, not exactly Hollywood; it's more like a town that's a just a short, little drive south of Hollywood. A town called Carson. A town where the Home Depot Center and the Los Angeles Galaxy reside. A town with a street called Victoria where he will be plying his trade next year.
And Hejduk has plied his trade for quite some time now, playing the beautiful game. Now he returns back home to the Golden State for one more shot at adding to his accomplishments on the field and in Major League Soccer as a defender.
Frankie Hejduk was born on Aug. 5, 1974 in La Mesa, California. This is a town of 54,749 (as of the 2000 Census) and a suburb of San Diego.
La Mesa is known far and wide for its Oktoberfest, where 200,000 people descend on the town for three nights of music, food, drinking and revelry. La Mesa is also the hometown of NBA player Bill Walton, football stars Reggie Bush and Alex Smith, actor Dennis Hopper, singer of rock band Pearl Jam Eddie Vedder and thrash metal band Megadeth founder and guitarist/singer Dave Mustaine.
Interestingly, Hejduk is a surfing ace. At Encinitas's San Dieguito Academy, Hejduk won a state and national championship for the Mustangs, while winning the 1988 National Junior High School Surfing Championship and he also qualified for the 1989 U.S. Amateur Surfing Team by finishing 10th overall.
But it was the round ball that was his first love. Hejduk played youth soccer for the La Jolla Nomads, leading them to California state youth titles in 1989, 1990 and 1991 while playing high school soccer at San Dieguito. His skills caught the eyes of Westwood, and soon enough, Hejduk was playing for the UCLA Bruins.
Hejduk spent three seasons on defense for UCLA from 1992-1994 and was the second-leading scorer in 1994 with six goals. He was also named an NCAA second-team All-American that same season.
Hejduk is a bona fide MLS original, having been selected in the seventh round—and 67th overall—by the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny in the 1996 MLS Inaugural Player Draft. Even though his commitments to the Olympic team during the 1996 Summer Olympics limited his playing time as a rookie, Hejduk proceeded to be an enforcer in the back line, making 22 appearances while recording a goal and six assists in 1997. In 1998, Hejduk followed that up with three goals and an assist in 18 appearances with Tampa Bay. Overall, Hejduk scored five goals in 57 matches for the Mutiny.
His first major break as an international player came in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Hejduk went on to make 85 appearances for the national team (to go with nine appearances for the Under-23s), scoring seven goals along the way. As a member of the national team, he led the USA to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2002, 2005 and 2007.
After the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Hejduk spent four seasons with Bayer 04 Leverkusen. During the 1998-99 season, he helped lead Die Werkself to qualification for the UEFA Champions League and also earned playing time during their campaign in that competition.
A shoulder injury in 2001, combined with reduced playing time, meant that Hejduk was reduced to one goal in 19 appearances for Bayer before the club sold his contract to FC St. Gallen of the Swiss Super League. Hejduk only managed seven appearances for Espen, and it was clear that he needed to return to the states.
That's when the Columbus Crew came calling.
In his first season, Hejduk started 23 games for the Crew, assisting on four goals. In 2004, he played in the right back and right midfield positions, starting another 19 matches and scoring two goals while leading the club to the Supporters' Shield.
And the beat went on. Hejduk would appear in 147 matches for Columbus, scoring seven goals as a right back.
A family man, Hejduk has been married to Elissa Zurcher since 2005 and has two sons, Frankie Nesta (born 2/25/98) and Coasten Daniel (born 1/2/2008).
When the 2010 MLS season concluded, the Crew declined Hejduk's contract option. He was initially selected by Sporting Kansas City in Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft, but they traded him for Luke Sassano shortly thereafter.
So there you have it. You can relax and do it, Frankie Hejduk. You're going to Hollywood...and to Victoria Street, where the Galaxy await your arrival. No pun intended.