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The name’s Bond — Jonathan Bond, and he hopes to be the Galaxy’s goalkeeper

West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Jonathan Bond celebrates after a victory over West Ham United on Jan. 25, 2020.
West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Jonathan Bond celebrates after a victory over West Ham United on Jan. 25, 2020. Bond is one of four goalkeepers looking to earn a starting role with the Galaxy.
(Justin Tallis / AFP via Getty Images)

Jonathan Bond wants to make one thing clear from the start: despite the thick British accent, he knows no more about the royal family than what he learned from the Oprah interview this week.

But he does have empathy for Meghan Markle, who grew up in Southern California, married a real-life prince, then discovered she didn’t fit in with the monarchy.

“I’m sure it’s not easy to be someone who starts off as ‘a normal person’ and then suddenly has to fit into this regime,” he said. “I imagine that is difficult.”

Kind of like a goalkeeper who grows up around soccer royalty in the English Premier League, then, in the prime of his career, leaves for the colonies where he must adapt to the MLS regime with the Galaxy.

“It’s certainly a transition,” said Bond, whose grew up outside London in a town originally given its charter by Henry VIII. “Obviously, it’s very different.”

And different is exactly what Bond, 27, wanted after spending nine seasons bouncing between eight clubs in four leagues in England, starting more than 14 games just once.

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Under coronavirus guidelines established in California, the Galaxy and LAFC would be allowed to host a limited number of fans when the MLS season starts.

“I played a decent amount of football at a good level. But it got to the point where, OK, I’m with a Premier League team but I’m not playing. And that’s what every player wants,” is to play, said Bond, who spent the last three seasons backing up Sam Johnstone with West Bromwich Albion.

“The nature of being a goalkeeper is only one can play and the goalie that I was behind at West Brom didn’t miss one game in the 2½ seasons I was there. I never got an opportunity.”

He’ll get one with the Galaxy. With the departure of David Bingham, the starter the last three seasons, the Galaxy opened preseason training camp this month with four goalkeepers battling to be No. 1. And only one — Jonathan Klinsmann, who joined the team last August — has played an MLS game.

“They’re guys that are kind of at similar stages in their careers,” said Kevin Hartman, the Galaxy goalkeeper coach and the franchise leader in wins and shutouts. “But I also feel there’s a real competition.”

That’s fine with Bond, an athletic, 6-foot-5 keeper who felt he never got a chance to compete in England. At the same time, it’s not a competition he traveled 5,300 miles to lose.

“Nothing’s guaranteed,” he said. “Everyone knows that you have to train well, you have to play well. I’ve been in football long enough to know that.

“But my mentality is to come here and play and be No. 1. It’s a must for me to play a full season and help the team do really well. So that’s my mind-set and we’ll see what happens.”

Jonathan Bond reacts during an FA Cup match between West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic in January 2019.
(Stu Forster / Getty Images)

Bond is no stranger to his new home. His mother Elena is from Seattle — where she was a fan of the North American Soccer League version of the Seattle Sounders — and the family visited the West Coast often when Bond was a child. He even has a U.S. passport, which his mother urged him to renew because … well, you never know when an MLS team might call.

Actually, Bond says several teams, including the New York Red Bulls and Inter Miami, reached out in the last year. The two deals he thought were done collapsed, however, opening the way for the Galaxy to swoop in and sign him on a free transfer in January.

The contract is for two seasons, with two additional club option years, and if he stays for the length of the deal, it will match the four years he spent with Watford of the second-tier Championship — his longest stint with one club.

Hartman thinks Bond’s peripatetic career will smooth his transition to MLS, where travel, humid summer weather and varied field conditions can prove challenging for European imports.

“He seems perfectly situated and mature enough to deal with whatever is thrown his way,” Hartman said. “He doesn’t seem like somebody that has had any problem persevering.”

Said Bond: “At the end of the day there’s two goals, one at either end, and it’s a green pitch. It can’t be that different.”

One player who had trouble making the move to the Galaxy and MLS was Carlo Cudicini, the goalkeeper Bond — a Chelsea fan — cheered as a boy. Cudicini lost the starting job halfway through his first season and was released before he could start a second one.

As for settling in off the field, Bond said he has paid a deposit on for a place on the Westside, not far from Santa Monica.

“I just need to get furniture,” he said.

He might want to think about paying for that in cash because, with his accent, whenever he signs a credit card receipt “J. Bond,” it seems to leave people shaken, not stirred.

“If I have to buy a sofa or something like that, it’s just constant,” he said. “I had it in England as well. Everyone can’t help themselves. They have to say something about Moneypenny.”

Winning the starting job with the Galaxy will give him a chance to make a new name for himself.

VIDEO | 06:44
LA Times Today: Jonathan Bond looks to stand out in Galaxy goalkeeper race

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.


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