Cobi Jones and Edson Buddle leave Galaxy for New York and Germany, respectively
Jones, the Galaxy's former star winger and current assistant coach and the last of the team's originals, on Monday announced that he was leaving to become associate director of soccer and a team ambassador for the New York Cosmos, the former North American Soccer League club that is in the process of re-forming.
Buddle, the Galaxy's leading goal scorer last season, on Monday signed to play for FC Ingolstadt 04, the last-place team in the German second division.
The two developments meant that within the space of a couple of hours the Galaxy lost two of its top names.
"Cobi has been the heart and soul of the L.A. Galaxy and the one constant of our team since the day we acquired the franchise," said AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke, who was in London on Monday trying to keep another of the Galaxy's stars, David Beckham, from also wandering off.
"His contribution to Major League Soccer, the U.S. national team and soccer in America are immeasurable and unparalleled, as is the amount of class he has always exhibited on and off the pitch," Leiweke continued. "We support this new opportunity 100% and hope that someday it will lead him back to the league."
The hidden message there is that the Cosmos, who dominated American soccer in the 1970s and 1980s and brought such stars as Pelé and Franz Beckenbauer to the U.S., are likely to eventually join MLS.
"While I am excited to begin this next chapter of my career, I am honored to have been part of the Galaxy organization for the last 15 years as a player, a coach and a member of the L.A. soccer community," Jones said.
He is the second Galaxy assistant to leave the club during the MLS off-season, following the departure of Trevor James to join the expansion Portland Timbers.
Buddle's departure makes it all the more imperative that the Galaxy reach an agreement with Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel, the former New York Red Bulls forward whose rights were acquired by the Galaxy after he was released by the Red Bulls.
Meanwhile, in London, Beckham underwent a physical with Tottenham Hotspur, prior to joining Spurs for one month's training, or until Feb. 10. Leiweke continued talks with Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy about the possibility of Beckham actually playing on loan with the club. One sticking point, according to the BBC, is Spurs' desire to keep Beckham in London until the start of the MLS season March 15.
For more on these stories and on FIFA's player and coach of the year awards, please see http://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/ later Monday.
-- Grahame L. Jones
Photo: Edson Buddle. Credit: Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images