Trinidad and Tobago national team midfielder Christopher Birchall has agreed to a four-year contract with American Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy.
Birchall’s contract with Brighton expires on June 30 and he will then sign his new contract with the Los Angeles-based club of which former US National team head coach Bruce Arena is in charge.
“Last week I agreed to the new offer which is a four year deal with the LA Galaxy and I’m really happy about it and looking forward to it,” Birchall told TTFF Media before Monday evening’s training session.
“I was over for a week of training because the coach wanted to get me involved. They tried to sign me in April but Brighton weren’t willing to let me go at the time. But the club had kept in touch. They saw me in the last match against the US and they then followed through with everything.
“The coach has been in charge of the US team and we’ve played them in the past. He said to me basically ‘look I know all about you, just come and train and we’ll sign you’ and the rest followed,” Birchall added.
The former Port Vale man said he was obviously anticipating lining up alongside US midfielder Landon Donovan and possibly David Beckham. T&T defender Yohance Marshall is also on the Galaxy roster as well as US midfielder Eddie Lewis.
“LA Galaxy are a big club and it’s a privilege for me to get a chance to be part of their set up. There are some players who have done well in the League. Stern has been a hit there and then Cornell and Avery are there too. I’ll be playing with and against players of a good caliber. It’s going to be different to playing in England but it’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.”
Now with his focus on the June 6 qualifier, Birchall is gearing up for the clash with the Costa Ricans for which fellow MLS-based player Avery John is also likely to be in the squad for.
“It’s a massive game for us. This time it’s in Tobago and the distractions are a lot less for us in the build up to the match itself so that’s a good thing. It’s good to be here working under Russell Latapy as the head coach now. He knows what he wants from the team and we as players will go all out to give him that,” Birchall concluded.
Vale old boy to join Galaxy of stars.
Chris Birchall's last two games were against Hereford and Southend. His next two could be against AC Milan and Barcelona.
The 25-year-old, from Stone, is heading for the LA Galaxy to team up with David Beckham after he was offered a four-year contract by the MLS club.
The deal is officially being mulled over by his agents, but there's no doubt what his answer will be.
"It's a no brainer!" he grinned.
LA Galaxy wanted to sign him from Brighton in April, but the League One strugglers refused to release him from the final weeks of his short-term contract.
Birchall thought his chance had gone, but has been offered the deal after he was invited to train with Galaxy last week.
The MLS season runs through the summer. However, as their transfer deadline closed on April 15, Birchall won't be able to play until it reopens on July 15. That's just in time for their friendlies against Barcelona on July 19 and AC Milan on August 1.
Birchall accepts he won't be LA Galaxy's most famous English right-sided midfielder. But he is looking forward to the chance to play alongside Beckham, who is on loan from Galaxy to AC Milan.
Birchall added: "He's at Milan until their season ends in June, then has two England qualifiers, then has a week's holiday.
"He's eligible to play for LA Galaxy from July 15, the same day I will be. It will be a privilege playing alongside him and, no, I don't think I will be compared to him.
"They have been playing him on the right and want me in the centre, so we won't be competing for a place!"
Beckham will be able to advise Birchall on bringing up a young family in Los Angeles.
Birchall's girlfriend Lucy had their first child three weeks ago, so there will be major upheaval for all concerned as they swap their pad in Newcastle for a place in LA. Birchall added: "It is nice to be settled in England so it is a bit daunting leaving the country, but Lucy understands."
The midfielder knows the move will generate a little more publicity than his free transfer from Coventry to Brighton in January. But he is used to that, having played in the 2006 World Cup and become the first white man to play for Trinidad and Tobago for 60 years. He's still proud to represent the country, where mum Jenny was born.
He said: "I walk down the street in Stoke and don't get noticed, but in Trinidad everyone wants to stop and talk. I'm not going to have any problem walking down the street in LA ... unless I'm with David Beckham."