Lackey grad­u­ate DeLaGarza plays in 200th game with LA Galaxy

Lackey grad DeLaGarza plays in 200th game with LA Galaxy of MLS

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

Through­out his col­lege and pro­fes­sional soc­cer play­ing ca­reer, Lackey High School grad­u­ate and Bryans Road na­tive Adolph Joseph “A.J.” DeLaGarza has en­joyed far more highs than lows while be­ing part of two NCAA cham­pi­onship teams at the Univer­sity of Mary­land and three more ti­tles with the LA Galaxy of Ma­jor League Soc­cer.

This past sea­son with the Galaxy, DeLaGarza also gar­nered a per­sonal achieve­ment when he be­came only the fifth player in club his­tory to ap­pear in at least 200 games, fin­ish­ing the sea­son with 204.

DeLaGarza, who was part of three Galaxy ti- tles [2011, 2012, 2014] after earn­ing two NCAA crowns with Mary­land [2005, 2008], was proud of the in­di­vid­ual ac­com­plish­ment that val­i­dated his longevity in the league.

“It was quite a feat, I guess you could say,” DeLaGarza said in a phone in­ter­view on Tues- day. “It’s amaz­ing to think that I am only one of five play­ers in the his­tory of the Galaxy to play in 200 games. I’ve al­ready been part of three MLS ti­tles with the Galaxy and this is a great fran­chise. I real- ly can’t see my­self play­ing any­where else.”

DeLaGarza still has two years re­main­ing on a fouryear con­tract with the Galaxy and he is hop­ing to gar­ner an ex­ten­sion to play with the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia team when that con­tact ex­pires fol­low­ing the 2018 sea­son. The Galaxy has been in flux re­cently with sev­eral play­ers opt­ing to go else­where and a coach­ing change oc­cur­ring after the sea­son.

“I re­ally like to stay and play out here for at least another two years,” DeLaGarza said. “But right now we seem to be in flux. We’ve lost some play­ers and we will have a new coach next year. But I’ve played all nine sea­sons here and I love it out here. I would not want to play any­where else.”

While DeLaGarza has cer­tainly gar­nered am­ple high­lights dur­ing his play­ing ca­reer in col­lege and with the Galaxy, capped by his abil­ity to reach the 200-game plateau with

the MLS squad, he has en­dured some per­sonal tragedy.

Just over two years ago, his son, Luca DeLaGarza, died one week after be­ing born from a rare heart de­fect known as Hy­poplas­tic left heart syn­drome.

In honor of his son’s mem­ory, DeLaGarza and his wife, Me­gan, started the Luca Knows Heart Foun­da­tion to help other peo­ple who have the con­di­tion. Their ef­forts earned him the MLS Hu­man­i­tar­ian of the Year award in 2014. The cou­ple has since had a daugh­ter, Noelle, who was born just over a year after Luca passed away.

“It was a very dif­fi­cult time for us,” DeLaGarza said. “But I will never for- get the sup­port that we re­ceived from the team and the league and the en­tire com­mu­nity. It was a very touch­ing mo­ment when I got the Hu­man­i­tar­ian award. Our daugh­ter just turned a year old last month and she’s amaz­ing. She’s been a real bless­ing for both of us.”

DeLaGarza played briefly for the United States men’s na­tional soc­cer team in 2011 and 2012, but he com­mit­ted to play for the Guam na- tional team in 2013 and played all 90 min­utes in a 1-0 win in a World Cup qual­i­fier against Turk­menistan and lat- er played all 90 min­utes when Guam up­ended In­dia in another World Cup qual­i­fier.

While many Amer­i­cans will travel this week­end to par­tic­i­pate in the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day with fam­ily and friends, DeLaGarza noted that he, Me­gan and Noelle will re­main in Cal­i­for­nia this week­end. But they are plan­ning to re­turn to Bryans Road to visit fam­ily and friends at Christ­mas, an an­nual tra­di­tion the cou­ple seeks to keep in­tact.

“We’re stay­ing home this week­end, but we’ll be back in Charles County for Christ­mas,” DeLaGarza said. “We’ve al­ways headed back east dur­ing Christ­mas to spend time with fam­ily and friends there. It’s al­ways a great time and we plan to con- tinue that tra­di­tion again this year.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Lackey High School grad­u­ate A.J. DeLaGarza, right, who just com­pleted his eighth sea­son with the LA Galaxy of Ma­jor League Soc­cer, bat­tles for the ball with Or­lando for­ward Cris­tian Hi­gu­ita dur­ing a re­cent match. DeLaGarza be­came one of only five play­ers in fran­chise his­tory to play in at least 200 games dur­ing the 2016 sea­son.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Lackey High School grad­u­ate and Bryans Road na­tive A.J. DeLaGarza re­cently played in the 200th game of his pro­fes­sional soc­cer ca­reer with the LA Galaxy of Ma­jor League Soc­cer. DeLaGarza be­came only the fifth player in fran­chise his­tory to reach that mile­stone and has been part of three MLS ti­tles with the Galaxy.

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