Samuel’s time in Major League Soccer is over; at least, for now. Eight games into his career with the LA Galaxy, the Fluminense striker has had his loan terminated. As the team announced on Thursday, the 23-year-old will be returning to Brazil.
In 12 all-competition games for the Galaxy, Samuel only scored once – a goal against Tijuana in CONCACAF Champions League. During his eight MLS appearances, four starts, the forward failed to find the scoresheet, alloying Gyasi Zardes and Rob Friend to claim his playing time.
With a base salary of $50,000, Samuel’s departure won’t clear major salary cap space, but if he was unlikely to see playing time going forward, there’s no point to keeping him in Carson. Not even capable of winning significant time in U.S. Open Cup (29 minutes in two games), Samuel didn’t appear to be in 2015 Bruce Arena’s plan. Whatever spare minutes surface while LA pursues playoff positioning, might as well give them to Chandler Hoffman.
When it was announced this winter, the loan deal seemed like a good one, with Samuel’s nine goals in Brazil’s Serie A hinting he could be a useful piece for the Galaxy. But as Gilberto’s struggles in Toronto have shown, goals in Brazil may not necessarily translate into success in North America. Particularly for young players tested to adapt off the field, the challenges of new life so far from home can compound hurdles on the field.
It makes it difficult to know what could have been. Arena, having seen Samuel play almost every day for over five months, certainly knows by now, but 358 Major League Soccer minutes just isn’t that much time. That slump could prove an unfortunate blip, if a player has the skills to recover.
The Galaxy apparently didn’t see those skills. Or, perhaps, Samuel or Fluminense didn’t want to wait for LA to carve out playing time. Regardless, the 23-year-old is gone, ending his brief California sojourn.