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Tyler Boyd makes ‘dream’ homecoming with Galaxy a reality after signing one-year deal

Tyler Boyd declined to say how many clubs he spoke to after deciding to leave Turkey for MLS last year. But he knew how many clubs he wanted to play for.

“This was definitely the destination,” the former national team midfielder said on Tuesday, a day after agreeing a one-year contract with the Galaxy. “My favorite club when I was growing up.

“It’s a dream come true. I am over the moon to be here.”

It’s unclear how much the moon had to do with it, but the stars certainly had to align for the signature to be possible. Boyd had six months left on a four-year contract with Besiktas of Turkey’s Süper Lig – a team he made just one appearance for in the last 28 months – when the two sides agreed to part ways ahead of the January trading window.

As a free agent, Boyd reportedly attracted interest from clubs in the MLS and Mexican Liga MX, but the Galaxy proved to be the best fit. Not only did the team need wingers, it also meant a homecoming for Boyd, who spent much of his childhood in Santa Ynez, and his wife, whose family lives outside of Santa Barbara.

Contract talks stalled when Besiktas apparently had reservations about letting Boyd go free, negotiations that both Boyd and the Galaxy refused to discuss in detail. While Boyd suggested some issues have not been fully resolved, his name is on a Galaxy contract and will be in a Galaxy uniform when the team opens the MLS season against LAFC at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. More than 70,000 game tickets have already been distributed for the game.

“It’s not just the location for me,” says Boyd, 28, who grew up attending Galaxy games with his father. “It’s the history, it’s the size of the club. It’s a passion. I love this club. I have since I was a kid.”

Boyd followed a long, complicated route to return to where his football career – and passion for the game – began. He was born to a New Zealand father and an American mother in Tauranga, a port city in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand’s North Island, but spent most of his first 10 years near Santa Barbara, where he started playing soccer at the age of 4. later made trips to Carson with his father to watch the Galaxy.

When he was in primary school, his family moved back to New Zealand, where Boyd made his professional debut at the age of 17. He also played for the country’s U-20 and senior national teams before asking FIFA for a one-off change of allegiance coming in 2019 with the US team. Along the way, he played for nine teams in New Zealand, Portugal and Turkey, spending most of the past two seasons on loan from Besiktas.

Tyler Boyd of the United States in action against Cuba during the second half of a CONCACAF Nations League game on October 11, 2019 in Washington. The USA won 7-0.

(Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

That caught the attention of Galaxy coach Greg Vanney, whose team lost two starting wingers this winter in Kevin Cabral and Samuel Grandsir.

“When you start to realize that players are going to be available through some mechanism, that starts to pique your interest,” he said. “Probably in the last four or five months, we started to understand that he might become available and that it could be an option for us.”

So four weeks ago, Vanney invited Boyd, who has played 45 minutes of league football since May, to train with the Galaxy as the team worked through the paperwork to get him signed. Getting fit, he admitted, is still a work in progress, but getting used to his environment was no problem.

“It’s much easier to adjust,” he said. “When I went to Portugal, I had to learn the language. Here everyone speaks English. Everyone is American. I’m used to Americans. So it’s been really seamless; a lot easier than in other countries.”

In fact, it feels so much like home, as Boyd watches the stands at Dignity Health Sports Park this season, the summer days he and his dad spent in the same seats don’t seem so far away.

“I have a lot of dreams and I’ve ticked a few dreams off that list by playing in Europe,” he said. “Play here too. It’s a huge club, huge opportunities. If you do well here, you never know what could happen.

“But I would love to play here for many more years.”