For anyone scared of little AJ DeLaGarza scurrying off to play elsewhere, not that there was ever any indication that he might, fear no more. According to his agent Richard Motzkin and confirmed by his own Twitter, DeLaGarza has agreed to a new contract with MLS, although terms of the deal were not released. It looks like DeLaGarza will be hanging around the league a little longer. That means he'll be hanging around the Home Depot Center a little longer, something that will undoubtedly put a smile on the faces of Galaxy fans.
The diminutive defender has come into his own with the Galaxy in the last year or so after a start to his career in which he struggled to get on the field. With Gregg Berhalter routinely injured though, and then Leonardo also falling victim to the injury monster, DeLaGarza has stepped up and performed well. Capable of playing in the center of the defense, either fullback position or even as a defensive midfielder in a pinch, there aren't many defenders in the league as versatile as him.
Resigning DeLaGarza may seem small, but it is a major boost for a Galaxy team that needs to lock up all the young players it can. With Landon Donovan aging and maybe eying a move elsewhere, David Beckham's contract coming to an end, Juan Pablo Angel aging and a few other key players getting up there in age, LA will be going through a transition soon. Having the young players around will help ease that transition and allow the Galaxy to compete even as they phase out the older guys. With his new contract, DeLaGarza will be one of those guys to take the lead during that transition.
“We are pleased to have re-signed A.J. In his three years with the Galaxy, he has been a valuable player both on and off the field," said Galaxy general manager and head coach Bruce Arena. "He continues to grow as a player and we look forward to having him as a member of the Galaxy for many years.”
AJ has played in and started 16 of the Galaxy's 18 games this year for a total of 1,433 minutes, third most on the team. Last season, AJ appeared in 17 regular season games, making 14 starts and scoring one goal. However he played the full 90 in all three of the Galaxy's postseason matches. Naturally a centerback, AJ played much of last season at right and left back, but has been paired with Omar Gonzalez in the middle most of this season.
"I am excited to be able to continue my career with the Galaxy here in Los Angeles and Major League Soccer," DeLaGarza said. "This league continues to make great strides toward becoming a top league and I look forward to being a part of it for a long time to come."