Sega Coulibaly is in town, and he’s happy to be here.
The new LA Galaxy defender, signed in late April from Ligue 2 side Nancy, is the latest import to make his way through immigration and arrive, and he’s ready to get to work.
Coulibaly spoke to reporters on Wednesday, which happened to be his birthday, and the 24-year-old shrugged off an interpreter on standby to speak English throughout.
“I’m very happy to be here. Everyone welcomed me very nice. I feel like I’m at home. It’s 10 days since I [arrived] and I’m very happy, can’t wait to start our games,” Coulibaly said.
His arrival comes at an opportune time on multiple levels, with the Galaxy in the middle of a three-week break in MLS play due to the international window and with another new defender who had taken a starter’s role, Derrick Williams, suspended for the next five games.
Head coach Greg Vanney said Coulibaly is adjusting to the big move well so far.
“He’s integrated really, really well,” Vanney said. “The guys have really welcomed him which is no surprise with our group of players, he’s trained well. He’s got great soccer IQ, he’s got a great physical capacity, he closes fast and he has great physicality and his game and he understands what he’s trying to do on the field and what I’ve been really surprised about is just his willingness and eagerness to communicate. His English is okay. I would say it’s better than average, probably for a player who’s moving to a new country for the first time, but it’s just his willingness to try to get his message across in the game to his teammates and the players that are around him, he’s been very vocal in that capacity which is really nice to see him feel that comfortable already.”
Coulibaly said he did his homework before joining his new team.
“Before I arrived I watched many games of LA Galaxy. For me we have a great team, great players, like Chicha, Jonathan [dos Santos], Dan[iel Steres], the goalkeeper Jonathan [Bond]. So we have a lot of quality. I hope we are going to do great things,” he said.
Capable of playing center back or right back, he said, Coulibaly said he could have stayed in Europe, but he is ready for a new challenge.
“Yes, I have [options to continue playing in France],” he said. “But for me it’s a big move that I choose because in USA they have good training facilities, good staff and I think it’s the best option. In Europe people think the level is higher in Europe but for me that is not the truth because they don’t know. They don’t come here to see and now I can say it’s a good choice. Everyone is helping the players and I have a goal to give my best.”
And like many international players coming to MLS, Coulibaly was intrigued by living in the United States.
“I played maybe 15 years in Europe and I want to do a big move for myself and to improve as a player, and as a man,” Coulibaly explained. “I think the USA is a country I like. The lifestyle, the other sports, like NBA, NFL. And I want to discover other things. So yes it was a big role in my choice to come here. I want to discover and grow as a man and as a player, also.”
The newcomer said he’s a fan of American sports, and when asked if he likes particular teams, he had one that many locals will appreciate, and one that may surprise Los Angeles partisans.
“I like Lakers because of LeBron James and I like hockey, Vegas [Golden] Knights. I like USA sports,” he said.
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