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LA Galaxy News: Nigel de Jong Explains His Mission, Under-16s Advance To GA Cup Finals

Nigel de Jong was introduced at a press conference at StubHub Center on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. (Photo courtesy of LA Galaxy)

Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong had the United States in his sights for a long time, and this year, he gets the honor of holding the fort down for Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy as they prepare for the 2016 Major League Soccer season to go with play in a number of cup competitions. de Jong was formally introduced at a press conference this week at StubHub Center in Carson, California. de Jong impressed in the Galaxy’s 1-0 preseason win over the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend in Las Vegas, Nev.

“[The last six months] were difficult because it was the first time in my career that it happened to me,” said de Jong. “I’ve always been a regular and a starter throughout my career,” said de Jong “You have to deal with that as well; you can’t do anything about it. It was between the coach and me. I couldn’t do anything than just waiting for my moment. Now I’m here, and I’m happy to get a chance overseas in a country that I really prefer.”

“I think that it helped a lot that I’m still a fan of the sport culture. Since I was young, I always watched the different sports and enjoyed the way that America embraces sports are way different than Europe. I liked that,” he added. “I came here a couple of times for holidays and my rehab [in 2013], and I had a good feeling of how the culture really is. That’s why I always said that if I had the opportunity to come to America, then I would do it. Luckily, the opportunity came, and it was first on my list even though I had other European offers.

“You see what the United States can offer you apart from playing football as well. The lifestyle, the way people think about sports in general. Not only soccer, but there are also so many sports out here. It’s why the culture is so big,” he said. “I always wanted to experience that. I played in four countries already, and my next step has always been America. I always wanted to play soccer in America. How good is it that I can be here still in my prime and be a big asset and a big part of a team like the LA Galaxy, the biggest team in America?

“I’ve been a big sports fan since I was little. That made it easier for me because I love American sports, I always followed them in Europe. It was difficult to follow because it was always during the night, lot of the games, but I would stay up and watch those games. I’m a big fan; I’m glad I don’t have to stay up so late anymore.”

“I think Nigel’s experience and leadership will be tremendous for our young players,” Arena added. “We see that already. Obviously with Nigel, Robbie Keane, Stevie Gerrard, Jelle van Damme, Dan Kennedy, Ashley Cole we have experienced players that now are having a great influence on our young players.

“Our locker room is in great shape. They step out onto the field and they train the right way. And we’re hopeful on game day the same attitude is going to be there and I think we have strong leadership with our club this year. We’re going to ask Nigel to be a strong leader as well.”

The LA Galaxy Academy Under-16s throttled the Portland Timbers 9-0 to clinch a spot in the Generation Adidas Cup Championship Division. The Under-16s finished with a record of 3-1-2 on goals from Zico Bailey, Misa Becerra, Jonah Estrada, Kevin Negrete and Efrain Alvarez, with everyone but the latter mentioned recording a brace. The Galaxy have already won the Generation Adidas Cup, defeating FC Dallas 2-0 in 2011.

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