CARSON -- Sean Franklin took the field, for real, for the first time this year Monday, taking the next and, he hopes, last step in his recovering from knee surgery last fall.
The 2011 All-Star right back from Palmdale (Highland HS) and Cal State Northridge spent the first week of Galaxy preseason running and working to strengthen his right knee, which he hurt last September, more severely than the club let on.
Franklin, 26, in September underwent a previously unacknowledged surgery to clean debris out of the knee, missing five Major League Soccer and four CONCACAF Champions League matches before returning to action, earlier than he probably should have, in L.A.'s regular-season finale. He started all four MLS playoff games and played in all three matches on the club's postseason tour of Asia and Australia.
“I kind of came in slow last week to strengthen my knee more from last year,” Franklin said. “I did some work over the offseason, some physical therapy, and it's getting stronger. It's almost 100 percent. I felt good to get out there, but I feel tired after my first full practice.”
Fitness still is the priority in camp -- head coach Bruce Arena says it will be until just before the season begins in early March -- but the Galaxy filtered more game-playing situations among the running. It's the first real soccer Franklin has played since the season ended Dec. 6 in Melbourne.
“It's good to have him back on the field,” Arena said. “We didn't give him enough time last year to really come back at 100 percent. We rushed him back from his surgery and brought him back a little bit quick. This time we have he time to give him the proper opportunity to work on getting his strength back, and we've done that. We're just being careful with him.”
Franklin, MLS's Rookie of the Year in 2008, said he “normally” would have “waited the season out” after surgery, “but it was the playoffs, and I wanted to play, and that's how it goes. But normally, I would have rested [the knee] longer.”
He said his offseason regimen was more intense than in previous years, with lots of work on the stationary bicycle and therapy two or three days a week.
“I wanted to come into camp as close to 100 percent ...,” said Franklin, who is transitioning into a wide-midfielder role better suited to his talents. “I always set my goal [for the season] to stay healthy. Do what I got to do before and after training to keep my body strong, and I've done that since I got done with our postseason tour. I set up physical therapy, I've been lifting, I've been training just to make sure my body's going to be fit, and I'm hoping I just stay healthy this year and can contribute to the team.”
INTEREST IN BRUCE?: Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has acknowledged what Arena won't, that the Galaxy has made contact inquiring about 27-year-old center back Alex Bruce, presumably as a replacement for injured Omar Gonzalez.
“They've inquired about the situation, but I don't know at this stage if anything will happen,” Grayson told Leeds United's website. “We'll see what happens with that one.”
Arena, asked about Bruce, gave his standard answer: “You should know by now we never comment on players we don't have. ... From experience, you should realize everything we say is legitimate despite what's written or reported.”
Yeah, OK, but it's the manager, not some unidentified source, doing the reporting. Should we assume that if the Galaxy has, indeed, made contact, that this is just part of the process of looking at potential options?
“This stuff goes on all day around,” Arena replied. “There's a list of a hundred players we've probably had contact with, either from their agents or whatever.”
Is the Galaxy closer to deciding whether to bring in someone from abroad to replace Gonzalez? Says Arena: “Nothing at this point. No.”
WORTH NOTING: Dasan Robinson announced his retirement Friday via Twitter and on his Facebook wall. The Galaxy had declined the 27-year-old defender's option, then retained his rights in last month's second-stage re-entry draftt. Robinson, who played five and a half seasons with Chicago, joined L.A. in a September trade from Toronto FC and made one league appearance, one MLS Reserve League appearance and played in all three games on the postseason tour. ... The Galaxy's preseason opener Friday against the L.A. Blues, begins at 10:30 a.m. on University Field 2, the club's training field immediately southwest of the main stadium. Chivas USA faces FC Hasental, from Thousand Oaks, at 11 a.m. elsewhere in the complex. ... Supplemental draft pick Yuri Gorentzvaig, a Brazilian forward on loan from Flamengo, has sat out the past week after a heel laceration in his second session with the team. It required only two stitches, but he needs it to fully heal before stepping back into his cleats.