Player Spotlight: Kennedy recharged by Southern California return
Dan Kennedy isn't hiding it. He's happy to be home.
|SEASON PREVIEW: LA GALAXY|
The Galaxy are hoping their offseason additions, plus their existing veterans, lead the team back to the MLS Cup.
"Oh man. I can’t express to you how nice it’s been," the LA Galaxy goalkeeper tells Goal USA about his return to Southern California, "not only for me but for my family. It’s obviously just a familiar setting. I feel like it’s helped my transition into the club. It’s been pretty seamless."
Now 33, Kennedy has spent a lot of his life in and around Los Angeles. He was born in Fullerton, went to school in Santa Barbara, and spent the majority of his career with Chivas USA, the neglected, underachieving brother of the LA soccer market. The club folded in 2014, and FC Dallas snapped up Kennedy with the first pick in the dispersal draft that followed.
Things in Dallas were fine, good even. Kennedy started 16 matches for FC Dallas, keeping clean sheets in five games as the team went 7-5-4 with Kennedy in goal. Then, he suffered a right knee strain in mid-August. FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja turned to 20-year-old Mexican youth international Jesse Gonzalez and never looked back. Kennedy didn't make another appearance after the injury.
As Kennedy pointed out, recuperation as a goalkeeper can be more difficult than what field players go through. Midfielders can come on for 20 minutes at the end of a match and work back into the squad. That's a luxury goalkeepers don't have.
'When I came back into the team, the team was just doing really well in a great way and so the coach didn’t want to change the chemistry of things," Kennedy said. "I completely respect that. That’s fine. It was certainly a tough time, but with situations like that, opportunities always present themselves."
In this case, the opportunity was a chance to return home to Southern California where the Galaxy had less success than FC Dallas with a midseason goalkeeper change. Jaime Penedo left the club and the Galaxy scrambled to bring in a replacement, landing goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Seattle took advantage of positional and communication errors between Ricketts and his back line in the playoffs, and the Galaxy declined the Jamaican's option in the winter.
The Galaxy traded their second and third-round picks for the 2017 draft to Dallas in exchange for Kennedy this winter. The goalkeeper said the move happened quickly, taking about 10 days from the first he heard of the possibility to the deal being completed. He credited FC Dallas for its willingness to move the veteran to a rival Western Conference team without creating headaches.
In Kennedy, the Galaxy have a veteran who could help a team with several new additions gel together. The team wasn't able to move on in the CONCACAF Champions League, losing 4-0 to Santos Laguna in the second leg. But with league play beginning Sunday against D.C. United, Kennedy thinks the goal of adding silverware to the trophy case is a realistic one.
"This club is known for winning trophies, and I hope to play a part in that," Kennedy said. "I hope to play a part in this club’s legacy, and I feel like we have the team that can get that job done, but it’s going to be a long, hard grind at it. This is just really the beginning."