LA Galaxy's Mika Vayrynen delighted to fulfill MLS ambition

Leeds United East Stand

The ex-Leeds United midfielder is set to line up alongside club captain Robbie Keane and the soon-to-arrive Steven Gerrard moving forward.

The LA Galaxy bolstered their midfield with the signing of Finland international Mika Vayrynen last week, and the former Leeds United man has admitted to the club’s official website that moving to MLS was a long-held ambition.

Vayrynen, 33, linked up with the MLS Cup holders during last month’s preseason tour of Europe, where he featured in both friendlies and scored the game-clinching goal in a 1-0 win at Shamrock Rovers.

He had been out of contract since leaving HJK Helsinki this winter but, with head coach Bruce Arena needing more options in the centre of the park before Steven Gerrard’s summer arrival from Liverpool, the 58-times capped Finn jumped at the chance to make the switch to California.

“I feel great. This is a great opportunity for me to come here. I had wanted to come to MLS for a few years now, and when I heard about this chance, I jumped at it,” he said. “I’m really looking forward this opportunity. I want to bring experience, and hopefully I can help the team in the coming games.”

Vayrynen isn’t guaranteed a spot in the starting line-up, however, with fellow midfielders Kenny Walker and Baggio Husidic also competing for a role in Arena’s side, and Brazilian stalwart Juninho all but guaranteed to keep his place.

“We have a number of candidates,” the former US national team boss said. “We had some injuries in preseason so I think that position will change in the first month or two of the season before we get a full time partnership going Mika will be a new candidate to play in that position as well.”

Nevertheless, Vayrynen’s technical skills have already left a lasting impression on the Galaxy staff and his new teammates, who expect him to become a major contributor in their bid to win a fourth MLS Cup title in five seasons in 2015.

“He’s a very smart player and very experienced,” said Stefan Ishizaki. “He has good vision and good technique too. He’s a very good player who will help us.”

Added fellow central midfielder Husidic: “He’s a stylish player. He’s technical and I think that he’ll fit in really well.”

Vayrynen’s arrival in LA also sees him reunited with former teammate Robbie Rogers, having both been at Leeds together for a brief period in 2012.

Neither had much success at Elland Road, with the former enduring a disappointing seven-month spell during the 2011-12 campaign, but Rogers’ career has since taken a significant upturn since heading back to MLS, with the left-back now on the verge of an international recall.

Vayrynen will be hoping for similar success during his time in LA and, with club captain and reigning league MVP Robbie Keane and the soon-to-arrive Gerrard on board, the chances of silverware are high.

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