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January 14, 2010
Galaxy takes Stephens, trades for Mathis

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Bruce Arena dealt away all but one of the Galaxy's draft picks.
Bruce Arena dealt away all but one of the Galaxy's draft picks.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
PHILADELPHIA---The doors to Bruce Arena’s geriatric soccer home swung open again on Thursday, as the Los Angeles Galaxy made a draft day swap of their first round pick to acquire Clint Mathis from Real Salt Lake.

The Galaxy sent their first round pick, number 15 overall and a third round pick (#39 overall) to the MLS champs in exchange for Mathis and RSL’s first round pick, which was number 16 overall.

The Galaxy used the pick to select UCLA forward Michael Stephens. The native of Napierville was a two time First Team All-Pac 10 and was the 2008 Pac 10 Player of the Year.

“We all could see that Clint has some soccer left in him,” said Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena. “He is a very talented player. I think he could play another two years.”

Arena hopes to integrated Mathis into the attack that already includes Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Edson Buddle.

“He is still a very good attacking player, very creative,” Arena said. “At his age he would be in a less demanding role. But it will give depth and balance to our roster. If he can bring a good attitude into the locker room, cooperate with a good group of veteran player, to lead our young players.”
Mathis, who has bounced around MLS and Europe for more than a decade, might have some baggage, but Arena, who seems to have made a project of reclaiming older players, doesn’t think so.

“Clint’s a champion now,” Arena said. “There are no knocks on Clint. The knocks are on the Galaxy, we didn’t win anything. That;s a real positive. He wants to be back in LA. It’s a good way for him to finish his career in MLS. Its coming home.”

Arena said the Galaxy came into the draft looking for some specific help. “We had a though on drafting a couple of forwards. We had a couple that we were interested in and they weren’t available. In Clint now we get a forward.”

Despite the years on Mathis, Arena thinks having him on the team will be a plus. “I think if we made ourselves a little bit deeper, we can maybe not force Landon to play a bunch of different positions each in every game to make our team better. We can give him a more consistent responsibility on the field.

On a piece of paper it looks good, but you don’t win any games on a piece of paper. We feel pretty comfortable where our team looks in terms of depth and experience everywhere on the field. We need some guys to play better and produce better this year and be coached better. “

Arena was happy to be able to get the Stephens, the former Bruin with the only pick they had in the draft.

“I’ve had the opportunity to see him play over the last couple of years. Michael trained with us this summer. We know him well as a player. He can play a number of different spots in the midfield. He’s got a good engine.”
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