CARSON, Calif. – The seeds for Carlo Cudicini's move to the United States lay dormant for many years before sprouting into a transfer to the LA Galaxy this January.
The former Tottenham and Chelsea goalkeeper has played in the English Premier League for more than a decade since leaving Italy. Preseason trips to the United States initially spawned the desire to one day play across the Atlantic.
"In my mind, I always thought it'd be a very good experience to come here, since basically I started coming here as a preseason with Chelsea," Cudicini said to a clutch of reporters in the belly of the Home Depot Center. "I love the atmosphere, I love the sport culture that you have here in the U.S. So I always thought if I had an opportunity to come here, I would have taken it."
Then, a year and a half ago, former U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Friedel joined Cudicini at Tottenham. The two struck up a close friendship and often gabbed about Major League Soccer.
"He's a great supporter," Cudicini said. "We keep in touch; we message and talk on the phone. He's a great lad.
"We were discussing results and discussing what was going on here. Especially when he arrived at Tottenham I was following [MLS] a lot."
So the Italian was already receptive when former Spurs teammate Robbie Keane put the Galaxy in touch with him. Cudicini had grown frustrated at his inability to win back the starting spot at Tottenham following a motorcycle accident three years ago. The lure of a new adventure combined with his dissatisfaction sealed the decision.
"It happened in a moment when I wasn't that happy at Tottenham, so I think the two things are perfectly matching," Cudicini said. "That's why I'm here."
The 39-year-old mentioned that the Galaxy's recent success sweetened the deal. Los Angeles won the last two MLS Cups with Josh Saunders in goal. However, Saunders' contract expired during the offseason, and head coach Bruce Arena opted for the experienced replacement despite Cudicini's growing age.
"I think age is just a number," Cudicini said. "It depends on how you feel, your body feels."
His experience should assist in the transition for the returning backline, even as Cudicini transitions to life in the United States. Cudicini is currently looking for a house – it is only the first week of preseason – and expects his girlfriend to join him in Los Angeles next month.
"It's a bit different," he said. "When I moved to England, I was 26. Of course when you're 26 it's different. You don't realize the difficulties you can have moving countries, the language and stuff. At 40 you see more of these things."
By now, Cudicini has seen plenty. His soccer background is rich. His grandfather was a professional left back, and his father played in goal for AC Milan.
"He's a good experienced goalkeeper," Arena said. "You'll see more once we start getting into games. I sense he'll be very good in organizing our backline, and he'll be technically very good in goal, too."
Arena will just have to steer him clear of any motorcycles, not that they are in Cudicini's plans. "Not at the moment," Cudicini joked.
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