Juninho feeling right at home with Galaxy after brief return to Sao Paulo

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By ADAM SERRANO

CARSON, Calif. – A stellar offseason for the Los Angeles Galaxy got even better when Juninho rejoined the defending MLS Cup champions on a year-long loan from São Paulo. But while Juninho is all smiles about coming back to America, the midfielder still has one eye on an eventual return to Brazil to compete for a place at his childhood club. 

"I loved being here and winning a championship," Juninho said. "But I've always had the dream to try to play for São Paulo. It was an opportunity for me. But I feel great being here. I've got great friends, and it's a great club."

Juninho's return to Los Angeles may have come as a surprise to some, but not the Galaxy, who kept tabs on the Brazilian as he attempted to earn a first-team place with São Paulo. After he was unable to do so, the Galaxy were quick to bring back the influential midfielder on loan for the 2012 season. Juninho arrived in Southern California last week and has already made two appearances for the club in Desert Diamond Cup action.  

Happy to return to a place that he calls his "second home," the 23-year-old midfielder has fit right back in with the Galaxy.

"He's come right back in and fit in the second he walked back into the building," Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. "He's a very good player for us, no question about it. He scored a few timely goals, played a number of games, understands his role, complemented David Beckham quite well. I think this year…we have potentially a very good midfield."

Juninho returns to the Galaxy after a homecoming gone wrong. He rejoined São Paulo on Jan. 4 in hopes of gaining a place on the first team, but after a month of training with the club, he was unable to earn a place on São Paulo's 18-man game-day roster.

Mired near the bottom of the depth chart for and clearly no longer in the plans of head coach Emerson Leão, Juninho quickly had to face the facts and consider a return to MLS. For all his difficulties earning a place on São Paulo's vaunted squad, Juninho admits that this experience has not extinguished his dream of one day playing for the Brazilian giants.

"I had a very good contract with São Paulo and was in a situation where there's a lot of very good players," Juninho said. "It was very difficult."

His Brazilian excursion behind him, Juninho returns to a team that is stronger than the one that he left — albeit briefly — earlier in the year. This offseason, the Galaxy added another Brazilian midfielder, Marcelo Sarvas from Alajuelense, thwarted a host of European clubs to re-sign Beckham to a two-year contract and regained the services of forward Edson Buddle, who returned from a stint in Germany.

With Sarvas brought in initially as Juninho's replacement, Arena will need to find minutes for both Brazilian midfielders. During the Desert Diamond Cup, Arena has alternated his approach, placing both on the field for the second half against the New England Revolution and swapping the pair in the club's match against Real Salt Lake. 

No matter what his role is on the field, Juninho believes that the new additions could make the Galaxy even better than last year's MLS Cup winning side.

"Very good players — smart, intelligent. I think is better for us," said Juninho. "We'll be stronger, and we'll have good competition [within the team]. Edson's a very good player, and Sarvas. David will stay for two more years, and and Landon stays also. I think the Galaxy has a very good team."

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23 Responses to Juninho feeling right at home with Galaxy after brief return to Sao Paulo

  1. Dinho says:

    “David will stay for 2 more years”

    We shall see……

  2. Gnarls says:

    Stoked to have Juni back, but it’s ironic that a big win for Galaxy fans is sort of a kick in the nuts for Juninho. He obviously has high aspirations. Here’s hoping he has a stellar year for us, and then goes back to his home club and earns a spot on the roster.

  3. Edwin in LA says:

    Problem is that Sao Paulo is STACKED at the Center Midfield position whether it’s Center-Attacking Midfielders or Center-Defensive ones.

    I remember reading that exact fact when I read the report from Brazil about Sao Paulo giving him a 3 year extension and a raise and even with my weak Portuguese and then thru Google translate it was the same. They were saying they had a lot of options and listed some of them. Marcelinho alone makes it hard not to mention the other ones maybe if some start to leave for Europe or other South American clubs he can go and battle for significant minutes in a year or two…

    But for now, I’m hoping he helps the Galaxy beat Toronto and then hopefully Seattle in the CCL Semis but even if it’s Santos I’d like to see those lazer long shots of his in CCL action helping us to see if we can witness the 1st MLS CCL Champion

  4. chris says:

    Sao Paulo has a couple of stars in the making at midfield. Loaded with talent

  5. Gnarls says:

    Right there with you. Looking forward to seeing more clutch 20 yard goals from Juninho this season. And he doesn’t seem unhappy to be back in LA. Just saying, from a human perspective, I hope he reaches his personal goal of first team action in Brasil.

  6. charles says:

    he had players rated at 20 million dollars ahead of him in the likes of jadson, denilson and lucas, so of course it was going to be hard to crack that line up, but sao paolos trash is la’s treasure, here’s to hoping he leads the galaxy to the ccl final and hopefully gets some exposure at the fifa club world cup!

  7. A wise man once says:

    “We have POTENTIALLY a very good midfield”?

  8. JP says:

    Juninho did the right thing for his career. Just too much talent ahead of him at Sao Paulo and most other clubs at the Brazilian first division… Add to the fact that he’s more known in Brazil for “playing next to Beckham, than his soccer skills… uphill battle…

  9. Dinho says:

    Haha… I caught that too. Talk about not overselling it.

  10. Colin says:

    Imagine having to play for the Galaxy instead of São Paulo. Talk about a drop in prestige. Casemiro and Lucas Moura are really, really good.

  11. Nick in LA says:

    Yeah, but at least he’s actually going to get paid while playing for us. Besides, we all knew he wasn’t going to play for them. The contract was a play by Sao Paolo to get more money out of the Galaxy had they bought him. Brazilian clubs are built around selling their players and they thought they had a sure thing for maybe a $750k-1m transfer.

  12. Brain Guy says:

    Would like to know how this works for LA regarding salary, salary cap, who pays, etc.

  13. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Agreed, absolutely

  14. jeff says:

    Yeah it really seemed like a game of chicken that the galaxy were ready (and did) walk away from. Arena is a very shrewd GM.

  15. A wise man once says:

    Arena is like a more successful Jesse Marsch.

  16. Kaiser says:

    This LA team might be better than the one he left, but I don’t think so with the gaint hole in the backline with the injury to Gonzalez. Like the G’s additions in the midfield and up top, but don’ think the D will be as good.

  17. 22...-1.5...+4 = probably better says:

    I hate to have Gonzo out, but; once they get going, they could well have even more of the ball, and likely significantly more goals… I think they’ll be better than alright. They only had Keane a few games last year. Will have his services all year. They added Buddle. That is LOADS of upgrade from Cristman and Barrett. They have nice depth at midfield they didn’t have and…. Leonardo who missed all of last season will return at CB. If he is any kind of form, he is a beast. And… Gonzalez is slated to return before the season ends. Hard to say what his form will be, but adds depth.

  18. Revo says:

    Juninho is going to improve even more with fellow Brazilian, Marcelo Sarvas, on the left wing. Sarvas is the left winger LA has lacked for a long time. Magee will be an even bigger asset as a spot starter and super sub.

    LA’s midfield is the best in the league when the starters are in.

  19. jb says:

    Looking at the Galaxy on paper makes it possible for them to become the best MLS team ever. Not a fan, but you have to think this might be the first MLS team that could truly compete with most of the club teams in the world (excepting Barca, Man U, etc.). Hopefully the rest of MLS can build up to their level of talent.

  20. Gnarls says:

    Now Cristman is free to bite through more metal cables…

    get it… he looks like Jaws from James Bond…

  21. Dope says:

    Not sure about the prestige part…Donovan and Beckham are bigger worldwide names than Casemiro and Lucas. Galaxy is also becoming a global brand bigger than Sao Paolo. It would be interesting to see these 2 teams play.

  22. beachbum says:

    me too.

    so stoked he’s back

  23. beachbum says:

    Magee had the season of his career last year out there on the left, developed chemistry with David and got on the end of numerous Beckham benders for goals

    Mike and Marcelo will compliment each other nicely, along with Juninho and David and Landon and Michael……. :)