With the departures of Greg Cochrane and Bryan Gaul, LA Galaxy were looking extremely thin at fullback, a situation that was rectified with the signing of James Riley. Whereas the veteran had been with the Galaxy throughout their winter camp, the former New England, San Jose, Seattle, Chivas USA and D.C. United defender only became official today, with the 31-year-old signing on to back up Todd Dunivant and A.J. DeLaGarza.
“We are pleased to add James Riley to our roster,” head coach and general manager Bruce Arena said in a team statement announcing the signing. “James is an experienced player who adds versatility and depth to our defensive core.”
It’s depth that become much-needed. After Cochrane’s trade and Gaul’s release, Arena didn’t have an obvious backup at the fullback positions, a precarious situation given the injury problems Dunivant and DeLaGarza endured in 2013. DeLaGarza only missed six games but, for the second year in a row, missed significant time at the end of the season. Dunivant was limited to 25 appearances last year.
In steps Riley, who can fill in at both left and right back. Best known for his days in Seattle, where he was a starter for playoff teams from 2009 to 2011, Riley hasn’t seen the same success since leaving Puget Sound. The 31-year-old spent one year with Chivas USA before making 19 starts last year with D.C. United.
A veteran, unlikely to be expensive, and capable of playing on both sides, Riley is a perfect fit for LA, whose coach continues to value an experienced hand’s ability to settle into an established squad.