Ready Aye Ready for Frankie Hejduk
After riding the pine for the start of the season, right back Frankie Hejduk is ready for some heavy lifting these next few months for Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy.
"It was just good to get out there and have a run about," Hejduk told MLSSoccer.com's Luis Bueno this week.
Hejduk took part in the 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge against Manchester City. The Galaxy held the Citizens to a 1-1 draw but fell 7-6 on penalties.
Of course, that was just a friendly. Now, it's all about getting down to business.
"We've been winning," Hejduk said. "We haven't lost in 13 games, so the frustration is nothing at all. As a player, you want to play as much as you can but there will be a time for that. Right now, we have a good rhythm going.
"I want to get back on the field and help the team out wherever I can. If anything, that's been the frustrating thing — not being able to be available the last few weeks."
Hejduk expected to get the nod from Arena to finally get some work done on the backline, alongside MLS All-Star selection Sean Franklin, Todd Dunivant, Gregg Berhalter, A.J. DeLaGarza, and even Omar Gonzalez, assuming he bounces back from his nose woes.
"Coming into the season, that was one of the things Bruce and I talked about," Hejduk added. "We're going to need a deep roster. There are going to be tons of games coming up here and now you're going to start seeing us needing to use a deep roster if we want to do well in Champions League as well as keep our pace in MLS. That's what I'm here for and wherever I can help out, that's the point of it.
“I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I can get some games coming up here ... with the Champions League but I just enjoy myself and it's good to be part of this team. Everything's positive here. When you're unbeaten in 13 games, it's not too bad.”
Weathering the scrutiny
As the league leaders, the LA Galaxy will earn their share of doubters, their share of naysayers. It's all part of the package, so to speak.
Goalkeeper Josh Saunders responds with three simple words: "What, Me Worry?"
“I’ve been asked the question before. People are asking what’s wrong with the Galaxy?” Saunders told LAGalaxy.com's Larry Morgan. “It’s like, ‘What’s wrong with everyone else?’ Why are people asking what our problem is?
“I don’t think people understand we have such a good group of guys and we look forward to the rest of the season because this is when things start to mean something.”
DeLaGarza echoed the sentiments loud and clear regarding the team's apparent shortcomings.
“There’s always doubters against us because we’re one of the biggest clubs in MLS, we’re from L.A., guys say you can’t buy a championship,” DeLaGarza said. “Everyone has their opinion, but I think what we do on the field shows we’re a good group and we work hard every single day and every single practice.
“Guys don’t read too much into all the stories, the papers, what other people have to say about us. We’ve just got to keep winning and proving people wrong, I guess.”
Gregg Berhalter dismissed the notion in typical Galaxy fashion.
“We’re in a good position,” Berhalter surmised. “We complained a little bit in the beginning about how we dropped some points, but when we look overall at things we’re happy where we are. The friendlies (against Real Madrid and Manchester City) last week were a good chance to play in front of good crowds and against good competition, but now it’s time to really refocus on A, the league, and B, the Champions League.
“It doesn’t matter what people think of us now. We’re confident, we have a good group of guys and we believe in ourselves. But we have to prove that game in and game out. We want to win every game that we’re in.”
The opportunity of a lifetime
Meanwhile, back in New York City—Harrison, New Jersey, to be exact—Franklin feasted on putting another feather to his cap this week after earning the nod to start in the MLS All-Star Game today against Manchester United (kickoff: 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
“Realistically, we are hoping we can get in and get a win,” Franklin told MLSSoccer.com's Kristian Dyer. “I think it is going to be a fun, exciting game — we have a chance to show them we can play good soccer.”
For Franklin, it's really about the intrinsics, and the need to improve at his position.
“It isn’t something I think about, that I shoot for or set as a goal,” Franklin said of being named an MLS All-Star. “I always wanted to be an All-Star at some point in my career, but I just always want to be getting better. But it is nice to be recognized, to get that honor and to know that your work on the field, the time you put in, is being noticed.”
But regardless of the outcome, Sean Franklin is simply living the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I never imagined that," Franklin concluded. "David, I’ve been playing with David the past three or four years and he’s been a great teammate. Thierry [Henry], I looked up to him as a child. I still do.”
It's up to you, Sean. Remember: if you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere. Just ask Frank Sinatra's son.