A Few Words With Former Galaxy Defender and New Chivas USA Signing Ante Jazic

Few players are more qualified than former Galaxy and likely future Chivas USA left back Ante Jazic (Jonny Bornstein has been playing left half during preseason) to provide a perspective on both clubs. Jazic played more than 40 games with the Galaxy over the last three years before being traded to their intra-stadium rivals in the off-season. I spoke to Jazic earlier this week (and used some of his comments in Tuesday’s column) before he headed off to a yoga session. Ante didn’t dish on the Galaxy as much as I’d hoped, but you can read between the lines a little. BTW, Jazic and Chivas USA play a charity game against the PDL Ventura County Fusion at 5 p.m. Sunday in Santa Clarita at the College of the Canyons. Tickets are $20 apiece or $40 for a family of four.

Question: What was your reaction when you got traded to Chivas USA?
Answer: If you’re going to get traded then this is probably the easiest way to do it – just grab your boots and go 50 feet down the hall, so relocation-wise it was easy on me. I’m happy to be here (it’s) a great locker room here at Chivas. It was a little strange at first, but I’m getting used to everything around me now.

Q: How do the Galaxy guys and Chivas USA guys get along?
A: I knew a lot of the guys, you see them every day in the gym, so it’s not like this “hate thing” as people might like to say. We see each other daily, we share the stadium. There’s a little pride who rules this stadium. The Galaxy guys think they own the stadium, the Chivas guys think we own the stadium, so we’ll see, it will be interesting. I’m looking forward to the SuperClasico that’s for sure.

Q: How do the two locker rooms compare?
A: Here at Chivas we don’t have a marquee player, we don’t have any designated players – not that I know of anyway. Everyone’s pretty much on an even keel, guys are good friends off the field. In the Galaxy locker room (there’s) a great bunch of guys – I had a lot of friends there – it’s just a different dynamic. It’s just different because of people on different (wage) scales; (there’s) just a different aura around the club, whereas (with) everyone here it’s almost like a lunch pail mentality.

Q: Were you glad to get the hell out of the Galaxy considering what’s been going on there the last couple of years?
A: You know what, I enjoyed my time at the Galaxy, it was a great experience. A change of scenery definitely at this point in my career was good for me. The locker room (at Chivas USA) is great. Everyone jokes around with each other. Everyone is on an even keel – there’s no one ahead of anybody here on the team, so the young guys have their voice in the locker room and it’s fun. Everyone has a go at each other. It’s just a different dynamic. It’s tough at the Galaxy when you have David who’s a great guy, but it’s hard sometimes – you can’t really make fun of David, y’know. Well you can, but most guys are afraid to. Here everyone can make fun of everyone. … Hopefully, the Galaxy get things together, but now I’m with Chivas and we rule the stadium now.

Q: What was your relationship with David Beckham?
A: With David I had a great relationship. More on the road we’d hang out. He was fine, but it’s not easy being David as well, y’know? Coming here, it was different surroundings for him. He’s not used to MLS and the salaries and all that. David does his best – it takes time.

Q: Is it better for the Galaxy that David stay in Italy?
A: David is a good player. You have a better chance of winning games if David is on the field. I’m not in the locker room anymore, I don’t hear what guys are saying and I don’t really ask. But I would think if I was with the Galaxy (still) we’d have a better chance of winning with David Beckham than without David Beckham. If (someone says) it’s going to be a better team without David in the side, I don’t really know what that person is talking about.

Q: Some fans are trying to figure out what was going on with you leaving the Galaxy and left back Todd Dunivant returning to the team. What was your take on the trades?
A: (Laughs) Similar salaries. Similar surgeries – Todd had a micro-fracture (like me). I needed a change of scenery. I’m glad I was traded to Chivas. I thank Bruce for that because who knows where I could have been traded to. I like Los Angeles and wanted to stay in LA. I’m happy to be with Chivas, (where there’s) a good bunch of guys and we’ve bonded well through training in camp and we’re working hard and looking forward to the new season.

Q: One of the criticisms of Chivas USA is they haven’t seemed to have added an impact player or two that might give them a better chance of getting through the first round of the playoffs. How do you see the situation here?
A: You can tell you’re coming into a stable locker room. They’ve had a couple of good seasons – (and been) a little unlucky not to get past the first round. They’re still looking to add players in this training camp period. I’ve been impressed, guys work hard, training sessions are extremely difficult. Everyone works hard, we’re grunting our way through it. Hopefully the work will pay off and we can get past the first round of the playoffs because that’s obviously our goal. There’s a lot of good players, a lot of good characters in the locker room and it has just been a joy. I’m enjoying my soccer, that’s for sure.

Q: How close is your spot in the locker room to the other Ante (Razov)? And is that confusing?
A: (laughs) He’s a few seats down. It’s a little weird. I feel like I’m in Croatia again. Ante is a common name in Croatia, but definitely not in America, so when I hear someone say “Ante” I’m always turning around. So it’s definitely weird. I never thought I’d experience that. He’s Croatian himself so sometimes we can chat in Croatian. We have a whole melting pot of guys in the locker room, it’s a good group of guys. He’s been injured, but when he gets on the field we’ll have to sort something out. Maybe I’m Ante Junior, he’s a little bit older.

Q: Compare the two teams’ training sessions?
A: I’m hoping this training camp ends soon because it has been different with Preki, that’s for sure. We run a lot – that’s what I’ve noticed here. Every training session is difficult. Preki has a philosophy that you train once a day, but that one a day covers about two training sessions, I think. Fitness won’t be an issue; hopefully we can keep healthy this year and start to win some games, if we have a healthy squad. I think our team is pretty deep this year – a good blend of young guys and experienced players. I want March 21st to roll around as soon as possible.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!