Bradford Jamieson IV will miss the start of the MLS season and there is concern the rest of his career may also be in doubt after the Galaxy forward sustained the latest in a series of concussions in training last month.
Jamieson, 21, banged heads with teammate Jorgen Skjelvik during practice on Jan. 28. Skjelvik needed stitches to close a small wound and continued to play but doctors have prevented Jamieson from performing any physical activities since the accident. And the Galaxy say they are uncertain when he will be allowed to return.
"We're being very cautious with him," coach Sigi Schmid said. "At this stage we really can't say what the future holds for him. But obviously it's something that we're concerned about."
The Galaxy will play the San Jose Earthquakes in their penultimate exhibition of the preseason Saturday at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine at 2 p.m.
Jamieson, a homegrown player from Santa Monica, was a member of the Galaxy Academy and made 26 appearances for U.S. national teams at the U-17 and U-20 levels. He played in a career-high 24 MLS games last season, collecting three goals and one assist.
But he's also had a history of concussions, the most serious of which came in the U-20 World Cup in 2015 when he was hospitalized after being knocked to the ground during a tackle. That was his third concussion and it sidelined him for two weeks.
After the most recent injury, Schmid said Jamieson met with a neurologist.
"He said 'OK, let's see how he progresses.' But he hasn't been able to progress very well," the coach said. "It's difficult because this, for me, was a big year for him. He's a player with immense talent and has an opportunity to really step up."
Added Galaxy president Chris Klein: "Certainly with a head injury, this is out of our hands. He's obviously had a couple [of concussions] so we're letting the doctors dictate the process. The health of Bradford the person is first and foremost."
Jamieson mother, Danica Jamieson, who has also served as her son's agent, challenged that diagnosis via Twitter.
"BJ is good and concussion-free," she wrote. "Not sure who you've been talking to."
But teammates say Jamieson hasn't been around the Galaxy since they returned from a seven-day training trip to Arizona nearly two weeks ago. Attempts to reach the player by phone were not successful.
Concussions are a major danger in soccer, with repeated studies showing the concussion rate in the sport is similar to that in football. And once a player sustains a serious concussion, the risk of subsequent ones rises.
When concussions led former league MVP Taylor Twellman to retire prematurely at the age of 30, he started a foundation to promote awareness about the danger of concussions in soccer.
"The difficult part for Bradford is the smallest types of hits, the more often you have post-concussion syndrome and try to recover, the less likely you're going to be able to play at a high level," said Twellman, who still deals with headaches and other discomfort as a result of repeated concussions. "There's no formula on how this works. My heart goes out to Bradford because, at 21, that just seems unfair."
Twellman, who played for the New England Revolution, was the youngest MLS player to 100 goals and was on the shortlist for the U.S. World Cup roster when he collided with goalkeeper Steve Cronin in a 2008 game with the Galaxy. The concussion wouldn't be diagnosed for months and Twellman would attempt repeated comebacks in both 2009 and 2010, although he played just two games during that span.
If he had a chance to talk to Jamieson, Twellman said he would borrow a line from his foundation's mission statement.
"You only get one brain and you need it to last a lifetime," he said. "He has to know in his heart that he's making a decision for the rest of his life and not for the moment.
"And he needs to realize that if there is an issue, he's got way more to offer in the next 50 years of his life as opposed to the next five."