February 12, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Los Angeles Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. - The LA Galaxy's Sean Franklin didn't have to be told. He already knew that he was the so-called "old man" of the group.
He's certainly not old age-wise - Franklin turns only 28 next month - but he does have the longest tenure with the two-time defending MLS Cup champions, having first joined the club in 2008 when he was named the MLS rookie of the Year. [see above video] With Landon Donovan yet to begin training with the club, the former Cal State Northridge star, who is now entering his sixth season with the club has spent more time in a Galaxy uniform than any of his teammates.
"It's kind of funny," Franklin said after training.
Franklin said he still thinks about his first day at camp five years ago. He headed into the locker room for the first time and introduced himself to none other than David Beckham.
"It was like, 'Hey, I'm Sean,' " Franklin recalled. "He said, 'Hey, I'm David.' "
After spending much of his rookie season in central defense, it wasn't long before Franklin became a fixture at right back. He's had his share of injuries along the way, from ankle and knee issues to a torn hamstring in 2009 that sidelined him for four months, but for the most part he's been a consistent presence on the right side of a Galaxy back line that has improved leaps and bounds from his rookie season.
In 2012, he set club records for games played, games started and minutes played (just over 2,900). Now he has taken on more leadership duties and has tried to impart his experiences on the new players in camp.
Franklin said he knows how they feel because he's been there.
"Just knowing the demands of what it takes day in and day out," he said. "I still do get excited about practice and wanting to train well. It's a lot different from my first day here. Not just the coaching staff and players but the demands of training sessions and wanting to do the best at your best position and working hard to have a spot on the team.
"I tell the new guys, 'Just listen, I'll put you in the right spots. And if I don't, then it's my fault.' I just try to help them as far as getting in the right position and being a threat going forward.
"I'm starting my sixth season, and I feel it's my job to step up and help players if they don't know. I'm still asking questions how to get better."
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena laughed when told Franklin was his longest-tenured player in camp.
"I'm not sure that's necessarily a great positive. That means we had to clean some things up from years ago," he said with a grin. "Our expectations of a player like Sean are even greater. He should assume a leadership role and his game should be sharper than most players because he knows his expectations and knows the things we do.
"We expect big things out of Sean. Those days when it isn't so good maybe we're a little harder on him than others. It's been encouraging that Sean's been able to last that long with me. That's a record, I guess."
Franklin said he still gets a thrill putting on a Galaxy jersey.
"I'm just thankful to be part of this organization and the success we've had over the past few years," he said.