TORONTO -- Rafael Garcia, whose San Fernando Valley exploits revealed him as one of Southern California's most promising young players, will get his shot at the big time.
The central midfielder from Canoga Park and Cal State Northridge survived preseason with the Galaxy, winning one of the final three roster spots. The Galaxy has not yet announced the deals but are expected to later Tuesday or Wednesday.
Defender Bryan Gaul and midfielder Kenney Walker also signed with the club, giving L.A. 31 players, although only 30 -- the MLS cap -- will count against the roster maximum until Omar Gonzalez, expected to be out until at least September because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, comes off the disabled list. They'll then have to make a roster move.
Garcia, 23, part of the great Canoga Park High School team that won a mythical national championship in 2007, starred at Northridge, participated in Major League Soccer's pre-draft combine in Florida and was selected by the Galaxy in the second round of January's supplemental draft. He impressed in just three preseason match appearances, providing one of the highlights of L.A.'s preparations with a dynamic run to set up a Dan Keat goal in a 3-2 victory Feb. 16 against Chivas USA.
“I'm at a loss for words,” Garcia said following the Galaxy's training session Tuesday afternoon at Rogers Centre, where they'll face Toronto FC in a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg Wednesday night. “I'm really excited to be on the team, and to make it official is just a great feeling.
“I tried my hardest [during preseason]. I worked very hard. I like to think my hard work paid off. I looked at the rest of the midfielders, saw what they were doing, and I learned a lot. I think that was to my benefit, and thank God it all worked out for me.”
Gaul, 22, a 6-foot-5 forward-turned-center back from Bradley University, also was selected in the supplemental draft. He made eight preseason appearances, with three full 90s, primarily partnering Andrew Boyens as a second-choice tandem in the middle.
Walker, 23, a central midfielder from the University of Louisville, was taken in the second round of the SuperDraft after an impressive performance at the combine. He played in seven preseason matches.
Supplemental draft pick Justin Davies, an outside back from San Diego State, and trialist J.T. Murray, an outside back from Louisville who was drafted last year by Sporting Kansas City but did not make the Wizards' roster, were released from camp.
Center back Tommy Meyer, the Galaxy's first-round SuperDraft selection, signed an MLS contract before the draft.
DEBUTANTS: Other Galaxy newcomers this season: Boyens (from Chivas USA), goalkeeper Bill Gaudette (from the Montreal Impact's NASL team), midfielders Marcelo Sarvas (from Alajuelense), Kyle Nakazawa (from Philadelphia) and Jose Villarreal (Home Grown Player signing from Inglewood), and forward Pat Noonan (from Seattle). Forward Edson Buddle returned to the club after a year with FC Ingolstadt in Germany's second division.
WORTH NOTING: Nakazawa (still recovering after his tonsils were removed), forward Adam Cristman (suffered a concussion in last week's loss to New York in Tucson, Ariz.) and defender Bryan Jordan (hamstring strain) missed the trip. So did midfielder Noonan, who is Cup-tied to Seattle and cannot play for the Galaxy in this edition of the Champions League. Sarvas also cannot play -- he is Cup-tied to Alajuelense -- but he traveled to Toronto. … Villarreal and defenders Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo, all with longer-term injuries, also missed the trip, but Gonzalez is scheduled to fly in Wednesday to watch the game. ... Temperatures were in the low 20s when L.A. arrived in Toronto, but it's expected to warm into the mid-50s Wednesday. No matter: The game will be played at Rogers Centre, with the retractable roof closed, a decision made for weather reasons that enabled TFC to more than double capacity from 21,140 at BMO Field to nearly 44,000.