When the Los Angeles Galaxy drafted Frankie Hejduk in the second phase of the MLS Re-Entry Draft, it made sense. The Southern California native, who graduated from UCLA and is an avid surfer, got the opportunity to return to Los Angeles and continue his career. Hejduk's move to the Galaxy is now complete as the 36-year-old agreed to a contract with the 2010 Supporters Shield winners, officially making him the newest player to call the Home Depot Center home.
With 85 caps to his name, many people know Hejduk from his time with the United States national team. The energetic fullback and defensive midfielder's best run of form came at the 2002 World Cup. Having gotten World Cup experience when he started twice in 1998, Hejduk was a key to the Yanks' run to the quarterfinals of the 2002 tournament. Hejduk started four matches for the U.S. in 2002 primarily out of position at the team's troubling left back spot, but he also flashed his versatility by playing some in the midfield. Hejduk was also named to the 2006 World Cup roster, but had to be removed when he suffered a torn ACL. Playing his normal right back spot, Hejduk played a part in helping the U.S. qualify for the 2010 World Cup, starting the team's first qualifier against Mexico in Columbus in 2009 and scoring a key equalizing goal against El Salvador in the 87th minute to earn a point for the team.
Hejduk's career began when he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Mutiny out of UCLA and after three seasons, Hejduk moved across the pond to Bayern Leverkusen. A four-year stint in Germany saw Hejduk play in five of Leverkusen's six UEFA Champions League matches in 2000. After a short stint int Switzerland, Hejduk returned to Major League Soccer and played with the Columbus Crew from 2002 until 2010, eight years that were highlighted by captaining the Crew to the 2008 MLS Cup.
While there has been an unmistakable dip in Hejduk's play in 2009 and 2010, the Galaxy still have hopes that he can fill a roll for the team. With Sean Franklin at right back, it is unlikely that Hejduk starts regularly for Los Angeles, but he will provide roster depth for the team and his unmatched energy and positive spirit has always been a help to any team in the dressing room. If he can play a similar role to the one Eddie Lewis played for the 2010 Galaxy, Hejduk's addition will be a help to the club.
Now, the Galaxy have to worry about getting younger and quicker at several spots on the field, most notably in the center of the midfield. The problem of age and speed that hounded them in the season's second half and in their Western Conference loss to FC Dallas remains unaddressed just a month before the team convenes for the start of training camp.