LA Galaxy Open Preseason Camp Tuesday

Michael Stephens, Richard MartinezGalaxy reserve midfielder Michael Stephens is no longer with the club (AP file photo).

In typically understated Galaxy fashion, the club announced a few days before the public opening of its preseason camp Tuesday that much-maligned former No. 1 goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini and perennial sub Michael Stephens had “left the club.”

Using the word announcement is a bit of an exaggeration. The club dispensed with the news at the tail end of a press release Friday in an almost offhand manner that also noted 23 of the 31 players on the roster last year were returning.

Most of those that departed were bit players aside from former defensive starter Sean Franklin (picked up by D.C. United in the waiver draft) and young striker Jose Villarreal (on a season-long loan at Cruz Azul).

Few fans will miss sparingly used players like Colin Clark, Laurent Courtois, Hector Jimenez or Pablo Mastroeni whose club exits had all been previously announced.

But Cudicini and Stephens were (at one point) more integral pieces of the playing staff who managed to play themselves out of favor in a season that ended with a quiet whimper. And their status wasn’t known (for sure) until last Friday.

Cudicini was dropped by coach Bruce Arena abruptly in mid-season after making several high profile errors and was replaced by Panamanian national team netminder Jaime Penado. The former EPL goalkeeper never saw action for the club again.

Stephens was mostly used to kill off games by Arena, usually coming off the bench late in games. Not considered much of a game-changer, his entrance usually indicated Arena wanted to maintain the status quo. But Stephens made 94 regular season MLS games for the club over four years.

Both, it appears, have paid the price for their unconvincing performances.

At least four new players are in camp: journeyman Canadian forward Rob Friend, who signed from German club 1860 Munich and has spent most of his career in Europe; Brazilian forward Samuel, who is on a year-long loan from Fluminense; midfielder Baggio Husidic, a former Chicago Fire player giving MLS another try after a stint in Sweden; and draft pick Kyle Venter, a defender out of New Mexico.

In addition to previously announced preseason games against Armenian club FC Shirak Feb. 8 in Carson and the San Jose Earthquakes Feb. 15 in Fresno, the Galaxy will also take on Mexican outfit Pumas UNAM Feb. 11 in a closed door scrimmage in Mexico City.

The Galaxy open their MLS season March 8 against Real Salt Lake in Carson.


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