Galaxy: Welcome back, Leo

It would be easy to think the A.J. DeLaGarza-Omar Gonzalez pairing at central defense would be the rock of the Galaxy’s back line, and the former college roommates have certainly been a huge factor in two championship runs.
The duo was broken up by the return of Leonardo, who had not played an MLS game since tearing ligaments in his knee on April 17, 2011 in Chicago. Leonardo teamed with Gonzalez, pushing DeLaGarza to the flank, and went 90 minutes in the shutout.
“A lot of things were going through my head. Not just today but even yesterday I was thinking about today,” Leonardo said. “It was almost two years and this exact same team, Chicago, that I got injured. All the training sessions, training games and games leading up to this moment I was thinking about everything, and I leave with a good feeling that I’m ready not only for this game but this season and many more games.”
Why did it take so long? It wasn’t just the anterior cruciate ligament, it was the lateral collateral ligament. He thought he might be back in midseason last year, but was injured again in June during a reserve league match. He didn’t give up, even though when the Galaxy opened camp this year he was still struggling.
“At the beginning of preseason I wasn’t 100 percent but I had five games to get in shape and right now I’m hitting my stride and ready for the season,” the 25-year-old Leonardo said. “I don’t think about the knee, I think about the muscle mass on my knee and giving it enough rest.”
Even if Leonardo spent a substantial time of his rehab in Brazil, his work didn’t go unnoticed.
“It’s an incredible story, really,” fellow defender Todd Dunivant said. “He hasn’t played in two years, more or less Not only that, he’s hardly trained in those years. He’s had a great preseason, he’s built up slowly and he’s gotten the trust of our coach, of his teammates and he’s done fantastic. He was rock solid. He always is.”

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