BY ADAM SERRANO
Leonardo may be considered "the other" Brazilian for the Galaxy after fellow countrymen Juninho burst on to the scene last year, but in 2011, the defender seems poised to play a key role for the Galaxy.
The hulking Brazilian was solid over 90 minutes in Tuesday's 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders. It is a start that is a far cry from the way that the last season ended for the defender.
Leonardo struggled during the tail end of the 2010 season eventually being replaced by a number of players in the line-up including A.J. DeLaGarza as well as Gregg Berhalter. This offseason, the Brazilian defender has come into the season motivated to make in impact with the club.
"He keeps on getting better as a player and is learning English better and when that happens, we form a better relationship with ourselves and in the locker room" said Omar Gonzalez. "We talk a lot in the locker room and have built a strong friendship and now we just need to translate it to the field."
Gonzalez and Leonardo formed an effective partnership during the preseason, which has allowed first choice veteran Berhalter to recover from an MCL sprain suffered during the offseason. Leonardo started in a majority of matches in preseason, but has impressed and will likely have a major impact on the season with the team playing in several competitions.
"With more time and more experience, he's going to do well and has really shown this preseason," said DeLaGarza. "Everyone is going to be called on this year with the number of games that we're going to be playing this year so it's great."
CARDOZO EARNS RAVE REVIEWS
The newcomer from Uruguay did not feature in the match against Seattle, but that has not stopped the compliments for the young midfielder. Cardozo, who was selected in the first round of the SuperDraft has quickly integrated his way into the club and impressed many during the preseason splitting time from the wing to the center of midfield. One of those most impressed was captain Landon Donovan, who gave Cardozo, what may be the highest praise.
“Paolo from a technical standpoint is maybe our most gifted player,” Donovan said. “We have to find a way to use him so that he can be effective.”
INJURY QUESTIONS FOR NEW ENGLAND MATCH
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is listed as questionable with a right hamstring strain, which may force the Galaxy to rely on back-up Josh Saunders for the second match in a row. Forward Juan Pablo Angel is listed as probable after failing to travel with the Galaxy to Seattle due to an illness. Angel and Ricketts both worked with the training staff on Friday and did not train with the team. Omar Gonzalez is also listed as probable and likely to play in the home opener after missing the Seattle match with a right shoulder strain. Gonzalez trained with the first team on Friday and appeared ready to go.
Player/Coach Gregg Berhalter is listed as doubtful, but appears likely to be at least a couple of weeks away from making an appearance on the field. Adam Cristman (Left Knee inflammation) and Dan Keat (left heel fracture) are listed as unavailable for Sunday.