Tuesday’s Column: The boys from Brazil

i-28e15b26a2f579e9788f7cb9737e668c-dubeleonaRDO.jpgNew England Revolution’s Kheli Dube, left, knocks the ball away from the Galaxy’s Leonardo during last Saturday’s MLS encounter that saw Los Angeles field four rookies, including Leonardo (AP Photo).

Galaxy central defender and Rookie of the Year Omar Gonzalez was the club’s only player to see action in all 30 MLS games, while former Maryland teammate and fellow rookie AJ DeLaGarza, also saw significant playing time.

But after that there wasn’t much depth in terms of youth and Coach Bruce Arena was forced to stick with capable, if pedestrian veterans for the most part.

Not this year, as Saturday’s opener showed when Arena played four rookies, including the trio of on-loan Brazilians.

Why the change over last season?

“They’re better,” Arena said.

Point taken, but it makes for a short column.

I go on longer about the subject in today’s column.

The only problem is no-one on the playing or coaching staff can speak Portuguese (midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi could, but he was taken in the expansion draft).

The three receive an English lesson twice-weekly, but curiously those same tutors haven’t taught a handful of Portuguese words to the rest of the team.

Spanish and sign language only goes so far.

“The biggest thing is going to be the communication barrier with the Brazilians,” said Landon Donovan. “Being able to communicate is the most important thing. When you have three guys who don’t speak the language it’s difficult. When that comes I think it will be a lot easier for all of us. They need to learn at least the basic words so we can move forward.”

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group columnist and blogger Nick Green writes about soccer 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!
  • UCLABZ

    Its frustrating to hear that rookies out soccer playing nations are more technically proficient than our kids out of college. Gulati (and many others) have criticized the college system for holding back the soccer abilities of the US, but I believe the college system is the biggest advantage the US has in sports. Where else are so many minor league athletes given the opportunity to refine their skills and develop into world class athletes? Where else are minor league athletes given a world class education in case they don’t make it to the next level athletically? That is particularly important because enables academically minded athletes to keep developing their athletic skills.

    The question is: why isn’t college soccer as good at developing world class athletes as college basketball and football?

  • Studs Up

    College sports is in the psyche of this nation and there is nothing wrong with it. But it cannot develope pro-type players on it’s own. At best it’s a parallel means to the pros and with a country this vast options are always a good thing. The biggest probelem with US born players is that their techniques are not perfected by the time they reach the college age as they must be. So they have to chase others their entire soccer lives.

    The Galaxy’s Trio Brasiliero have been honing their skilles with a top professional organization in a soccer-crazed nation since age of 15 and that’s after being discovered by scouts. It’s interesting to hear all three of them talking about wanting to best the players in the league and winning many championships with LA. You don’t hear many players coming out of college talk that way. Vast, vast difference in mentality as well as technical ability.