Finding a home at last
Cornell Glen, the soft-spoken forward from Trinidad and Tobago, is well-traveled for his twenty-four years.
He first transferred out of his native country to play in Portugal in 2001, returning the next season to play again in Trinidad and Tobago with San Juan Jabloteh. Glen became a scoring revelation for the team.
He was with them when Major League Soccer first spotted his talent. Glen made himself hard to miss, scoring a hat trick against the Chicago Fire in CONCACAF Champion's Cup competition.
The then-New York Metrostars (now Red Bull New York) brought him into the league in 2004 and he made a promising debut scoring six goals for the team. However, since that time, it's been a myriad of stops for Glen.
He was traded the next season to FC Dallas. Before he ever played a game for the club, the organization sent him to the Columbus Crew. After just one season the Crew traded him to the Colorado Rapids, who in turn traded him to the Galaxy only one game into the 2006 season.
Four MLS teams passing him along could give anyone a bit of a complex. Glen wasn't helping his cause with the Galaxy, either. After being given a starting spot in the pressure-filled local derby last Saturday against Chivas USA, Glen proceeded to blow at least three quality scoring chances in a first half the Galaxy dominated, but had nothing to show for.
Though his play in the opening period against Chivas didn't reflect it, Glen wanted badly to show well and earn a place with the Galaxy.
"This is a championship team," he explained. "It's great to be here. It's like moving from a middle-table team in England to Manchester United."
Despite his lack of finishing, the Galaxy players were able to appreciate how Glen's skill and movement off the ball created opportunities.
"The guys weren't yelling at me or anything," marveled Glen. "They said, 'Keep going, they're going to come.'"
The goals did come, though not until after Chivas USA had scored one first, and were threatening to overthrow the MLS champions in the stadium they had always considered their own.
Glen put two balls into the net, neither an especially elegant or masterful strike, but he was well positioned to receive the opportunity dished out both times by Landon Donovan. Not only was the 2-1 win important to the Galaxy, as it marked their first victory of the year, but the goals also meant a lot to the relieved forward.
"It always does when you miss early chances," said Glen. "If I didn't score, the guys would have maybe been kicking my ass right now."
He gave credit for the win to his new teammates.
"I was lucky to score a couple of goals late in the second half. It was an all-around effort. The team played well. The team kept fighting till the end. I scored the two goals, but the guys just kept working behind me and kept encouraging me to go on and keep my head up."
The final result earned Glen his share of praise.
"He's a true forward -- has a bad memory," noted Herculez Gomez. "He forgot all about the first half and when it mattered, put it away."
"It just comes down to keeping your composure in front of goal and finishing your chances," agreed Glen. "We created chances in the first half. We created chances in the second half. The difference is that we didn't finish in the first half. Probably, if we finished in the first half, the score might have been 7-0. You just keep going at it."
To make his mark in such a major game for the Galaxy made Glen feel a true part of the squad. He'd certainly picked up on the significance of the match.
"It's a big rivalry." Glen indicated. "We wanted to win this game. We've got to let Chivas know this is our home ground. You're not going to come here and beat us here."
Though the boisterous crowd of 27,000 thousand marked the first sellout for Chivas USA, the atmosphere didn't intimidate the forward.
"I've played in front of fifty, sixty thousand people, so this is no problem for me," Glen stated.
It's with Trinidad and Tobago that Glen has earned much of his experience with big crowds, navigating the tough CONCACAF away venues. The national team just added him to the World Cup squad for their first time at the tournament.
Despite his opportunity at the world's greatest sporting stage, Glen was still thinking of his new team.
"[Steve Sampson] is probably a bit upset because I'm leaving in a few weeks to go join the national team, but that's how the game goes. I hope to come back and finish the season by winning a championship."
The Galaxy's motivation for acquiring Glen was clear, since none of their forwards had managed to score so far this season. Glen was somewhat confused as to why he didn't get more of a chance with the Rapids.
"I was feeling well all preseason. I don't know why I wasn't playing in Colorado. I got traded here."
He considered the move a fortuitous one, though.
"I'm glad to be here. I love it here. I always wanted to play here. I hope I can make the best of it."
One essential ingredient for a player's success seemed to be in place -- a coach with belief in his ability.
"I think Steve is confident in me," ventured Glen. "He tells me, go there and do what I'm accustomed to doing, look for goals. He put his trust in me."
Another key element for any forward is a playmaker who can serve up the ball, and Glen now has one of the best in Donovan.
"Landon is a spectacular player," Glen enthused. "You've got to know the guy and know to run off the guy. You're going to get the ball once you get free. I love playing with Landon. I hope I can score a lot of goals with him this season."
Scoring goals is the only thing Glen can count on to earn him the security and stability with a club that has so far eluded him.
"I've moved a lot," he acknowledged. "Five teams in the last three years. I'm looking for a home and I think I found a home here. I hope to stay here."
Andrea Canales covers MLS and women's college soccer for ESPN Soccernet.com. She also writes for topdrawersoccer.com and soccer365.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org