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Galaxy's preseason roster has a few surprises

January 20, 2009 |  5:45 pm

The Galaxy's Harut Karapetyan, right, and DC United's Tony Sanneh during a 1997 game at the Rose Bowl.

Coach Bruce Arena will have 33 names, including a couple of surprises, on his roster when the Galaxy begins preseason training at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday morning.

The surprises are defenders Tony Sanneh and Henry "Leo" Bautista.

Sanneh is an MLS and U.S. national team veteran. He was a starter on Arena's team that reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan and is a well-known figure among American fans after winning two MLS titles under Arena while with D.C. United. He is also 37 and last played an MLS game in 2007.

Whether this is merely a case of Arena doing an old warhorse a good turn or whether Sanneh still has what it takes is what the next few weeks will determine. At his peak, Sanneh was one of the best defenders in MLS, and played 43 times for the national team.

Bautista is another matter. The 25-year-old from Caracas, Venezuela, is tall, left-footed and fast. An accomplished tackler, he also has a good shot, as seen on a free kick midway through this YouTube highlight video.

Bautista, currently with Caracas FC in the Venezuelan league, can play at center back or at left back and could be a potential starter when the Galaxy season opens March 22 against D.C. United in Carson. Like Sanneh, he is on a tryout with the Galaxy.

If Bautista is signed, he could take the place of Brazilian midfielder Alvaro Pires as one of the international players on the roster. Pires was not on the training camp list revealed Tuesday by the Galaxy, and nor were midfielder Joe Franchino, goalkeeper Charles Alamo and midfielder Jeremy Barlow.

With the exception of Alamo, all were released earlier in the off-season. Alamo is expected to announce his retirement later this week.

--Grahame L. Jones

Photo: The Galaxy's Harut Karapetyan, right, and DC United's Tony Sanneh during a 1997 game at the Rose Bowl. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times