Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIPhotos.net
BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, Calif. — Marcelo Sarvas has some big cleats to fill.
Brought in from Costa Rican side Alajuelense, the 30-year-old Brazilian midfielder was signed by the Los Angeles Galaxy during the offseason as a replacement for fellow Brazilian Juninho. A fan favorite, Juninho served as the club's midfield engine for two seasons, helping the Galaxy to consecutive Supporters Shield titles and the 2011 MLS Cup.
With Juninho called back to Sao Paulo after a stellar two year stint in MLS, expectations are high for Sarvas to immediately pick up where his countryman left off. While expect him to be a carbon copy of his replacement, Sarvas is interested in building his own legacy with the Galaxy.
“I know the Juninho’s story here is great. He did good things during the years that he spent here,” Sarvas said. “But I am not here to replace Juninho. I am here to play my own game. We have different characteristics and I’m hoping to win my own place."
A product of storied Brazilian side Corinthians, Sarvas bounced around Europe after leaving Brazil before landing with Alajuelense last January. During his time with La Liga, Sarvas helped the club to two consecutive Costa Rican league titles in both the Verano and Invierno tournaments.
Coming off an impressive stint with Alajuelense, the attack minded two-way midfielder believes that he has a great deal to offer the defending MLS Cup champions.
“Well, I'm from Brazil," Sarvas said with a smile. “I just have to keep within myself, do what I know I can do well. Which is passing, short passing to create offensive plays that will lead to goals.”
Ultimately, Sarvas' success will be judged by his ability to combine well with his midfield partner, David Beckham. Last season, Juninho's swashbuckling play in midfield freed up Beckham to become more involved in the attack and allowed the Englishman to finish second in the league in assists with 15.
Sarvas will be expected to play a similar role and if his appearances against the Galaxy in Champions League play are any indication, it seems that he may be up to the task. During the two matches, Sarvas' physicality and passing ability challenged Beckham, even leading the two midfielders to exchange shirts after their first meeting.
“When we played against [Alajuelense] last season, he's a good player,” Beckham said. “I don't think it's difficult [to build an on-field relationship]. If you're a good player, then you can kind of play with any player, and he's a good player.”
Sarvas must now focus on fostering a relationship with Beckham and the rest of the Galaxy during the the club's rigid preseason camp. Due to being cap-tied for the Champions League, Sarvas will have until the club's season opener on March 10th against Real Salt Lake to establish himself with the club.
By that time, Sarvas will be joined in Los Angeles by wife Camila as well as son Lucas, who are currently awaiting visa paperwork. With a great deal of work still to be done, Sarvas is excite by the opportunity that playing for the Galaxy will provide.
“The Galaxy is a well-known club now, not just in the United States and regionally.”I think there's a lot of players worldwide that want to play for the Galaxy," said Sarvas. "I wasn't expecting things to work out so perfectly like they did for me and having this opportunity, but it's a great opportunity to have.”