There are three ways you can tell that Brazilian midfielder Juninho, who returned to the Galaxy Thursday on a two-year deal after the club bought him from Sao Paulo for a reported mid-six figure fee, regards Southern California as home after spending the last two years here on loan.
For one thing the club has begun the process of helping the midfielder acquire a green card. For another his wife brought her Yorkshire terrier, Jolie, along from Brazil this time. And third, after spending the last two months with his family in Brazil, Juninhio has returned with all his personal belongings.
“I’m so happy, I bring all of my family, all of my stuff,” he told reporters Monday in Carson. “My wife’s dog, everything.
“I love here and I play a lot of minutes.”
Juninho said he is about 70 percent fit and coach Bruce Arena jokingly said the club was “punishing” the player for arriving late in camp with demanding fitness work before he begins doing ball work with the rest of the team by this weekend.
Arena said re-signing Juninho was an offseason priortiy.
“It’s good to have Juni as a permanent part of the league,” he said. “We don’t have to worry every year whether he’s coming back or not.”
In other news, Arena said he intends to have a talk with Landon Donovan this week about the timing of his return to the club, hoped to have word on whether goalkeeper Will Hesmer will sign or not this week and confirmed Josh Saunders is “no longer with the Galaxy” and will “support a move for him anywhere we can” (Saunders is training with Real Salt Lake).
I’ll have more from Arena in Tuesday’s column including what he thinks of the chance Omar Gonzalez gets a start that evening in Honduras for the U.S.