Hector Jimenez grew up going to Galaxy games with his family. Now they'll be coming out to see him.
L.A. took the midfielder from Bell Gardens and the University of California in the second round of Thursday's Major League Soccer draft in Baltimore, and he's happy to be coming home.
“It definitely makes [becoming a pro player] more special,” Jimenez told ESPN Los Angeles. “I was just hoping to get taken by any team and keep playing. Thankfully, the Galaxy has given me an opportunity to stay home and stay local and have my family come watch me.”
Jimenez is a savvy, skillful right-sided midfielder who combines well, and coach Bruce Arena wasn't expecting him to still be around when the Galaxy's second selection, at No. 34 overall, arrived.
“He was a player we didn’t think was going to be available that far into the second round,” Arena said. “so when the time came in the second round, and he was available, it was pretty natural for us to select him.”
The moment he was announced, Jimenez said, was “the greatest experience ever. I was full of joy, tears coming out of my eyes. I can't explain it, just full of joy. For all the hard work to finally pay off.”
There's plenty of hard work ahead. Arena is stocking for the future, and although Jimenez will be expected to provide some quality minutes in 2011, he's under no pressure to be a huge contributor.
“I'm just making sure that I keep the same mentality I play with. Keep everything simple,” Jimenez said. “I hope to be able to learn from the veterans, make contributions, do whatever I can to get in the direction of winning an MLS championship again.”
Hometown: Beaverton, Ore. College: UCLA
Position: F Height: 5-11 Weight: 180
Acquired: In draft-day trade with Toronto FC for future considerations
Who is he: Hard-working, sometimes underachieving forward who has scored 38 goals in six seasons in MLS, the past two years at TFC. Left UCLA after his sophomore year to sign a Generation adidas contract and was the No. 3 overall pick, by Chicago, in the 2005 draft.
Arena says: “Chad's an experienced striker in the league, still young at 25, a player I always felt was a dangerous player and, placed in the right environment, can [be a standout forward]. … He's got good pace, is a strong forward, played very well against us.”
Fun fact: Barrett scored against Argentina at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Hometown: Montevideo, Uruguay College: None
Position: M Height: 5-4 Weight: 130
Drafted: First round, 16th overall
Who is he: Diminutive playmaker, 21, rose through Buenos Aires giant River Plate's youth system, then went to second-tier Quilmes when he turned 18, leading the reserves and debuting for the first team a year ago.
Arena says: “Cardozo was a player we liked in the combine. Creative, good-passing midfielder who plays with a good workrate. We believe he's the type of player you don't see too much in our country, and he's worth our time and investment. Hopefully, he'll grow into a good player in MLS.”
Fun fact: Cardozo was 7 when he moved to Argentina and joined River Plate's academy
Hometown: Bell Gardens College: California
Position: M Height: 5-9 Weight 140
Drafted: Second round, 34th overall
Who is he: Heady right-sided midfielder with a knack for setting up goals is a local (Bell Gardens HS, Arsenal FC) with skills (U.S. U-17 residency/two-time All-Pac 10). A four-year starter at Cal with 28 assists in 75 career games.
Arena says: “Hector's a good, talented player, has good quickness, is technically good. He understands how to play that position, how to combine and get behind people. … We actually rated him as the best right-sided player in the draft. He’s a local kid, and obviously we love to have those types at the Galaxy.”
Fun fact: Jimenez grew up rooting for the Galaxy and attending games at Home Depot Center.