LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes said he is looking forward to playing with new teammates Ashley Cole and Jelle Van Damme and is hopeful that his recent training with the U.S. national team will improve his level of fitness as the Major League Soccer side gets ready for a preseason match on Monday against Liga MX opponent Tijuana Xolos.
LA Galaxy recently welcomed English star Ashley Cole, Belgian defender Jelle Van Damme and Dutch international Nigel de Jong, adding three major talents to the five-time MLS champions' rebuilt roster.
"We got off to a good start eased our way into running and coming back I'm pretty fit. There is still more fitness to come coming back I am just trying to gain chemistry with the new guys and get my feet going with this team again," Zardes said. "I thought the national team was great. I am very grateful to get called in for my second year."
The return of @gyasinho.
- LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) February 9, 2016
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena did not confirm whether the Cole or Van Damme would play on Monday but the European stars have been practicing regularly. De Jong is due at camp later this week.
"First of all it's an exhibition game," he said during a news conference. "Results don't really matter. It's another game to get us ready as we get closer to the Champions League and the regular season. Sure they're ahead of us, but we know that and it doesn't bother us. We're just going to go out there and try to get something out of the exercise."
Tuesday's tuneup marks former Galaxy midfielder Juninho's first appearance in Los Angeles since he left the club this past December after a six-year stint so the Galaxy could free up salary cap space for the Europeans.
The 26-year-old has formed part of ex-Mexico national team coach Miguel Herrera's Tijuana squad that is five games into its season and currently tied for sixth place with three other teams.
- @XolosOficial (@XolosOficial) February 9, 2016
"I feel like I am more ready to play, I have more self confidence, I feel very much at home [in Tijuana]," said the Brazilian, who led the Galaxy to three MLS Cups. "I feel the support of the fans and I hope to give everyone joy this season. I know what the potential of the team is this season and I am confident that I can help us reach our goals."
Tijuana beat Real Salt Lake last week 1-0 in a preseason friendly in San Diego.
Arena confirmed that Sebastian Lletget will sit out the match with a groin injury.