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

Tyler Boyd leaps for the ball during a 2019 Gold Cup match against Curacao in Philadelphia.
Tyler Boyd leaps for the ball during a 2019 Gold Cup match against Curacao in Philadelphia. Boyd signed a one-year contract with the Galaxy on Monday.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Tyler Boyd wouldn’t say how many clubs he talked to after he decided to leave Turkey for MLS last year. But he knew how many clubs he wanted to play for.

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

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

It’s unclear how much the moon had to do with it, but certainly the stars had to align to make the signing possible. Boyd still had six months left on a four-year contract with Besiktas of the Turkish Super Lig — a team he has played for only once in the last 28 months — when the two sides agreed to part company ahead of the January trade window.


As a free agent, Boyd reportedly drew the interest of clubs in MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX, but the Galaxy proved the best fit. Not only did the team need wingers, it represented a homecoming for Boyd, who spent much of his childhood in Santa Ynez, and his wife, whose family lives outside Santa Barbara.

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Contract talks hit a snag when Besiktas apparently had second thoughts about letting Boyd go for free, negotiations both Boyd and the Galaxy declined to discuss in detail. Although Boyd suggested some issues haven’t been fully resolved, his name is on a Galaxy contract and he’ll be in a Galaxy uniform when the team opens the MLS season Saturday against LAFC at the Rose Bowl. More than 70,000 tickets for the game have already been distributed for the game.

“It’s not just the location for me,” said 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 get back to where his soccer career — and passion for the game — started. He was born to a New Zealand father and American mother in Tauranga, a harbor city in the Bay of Plenty region on New Zealand’s North Island, but spent most of his first 10 years near Santa Barbara, where he started playing soccer at age 4 and later made trips to Carson with his father to watch the Galaxy.

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

United States' Tyler Boyd in action against Cuba during the second half of a CONCACAF Nations League game.
United States’ Tyler Boyd in action against Cuba during the second half of a CONCACAF Nations League game on Oct. 11, 2019, in Washington. The U.S. won 7-0.
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

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

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

So four weeks ago Vanney invited Boyd, who has played 45 minutes of competitive soccer since May, to train with the Galaxy while the team worked through the paperwork to get him signed. Getting fit, he admitted, remains a work in progress but getting acclimated to his surroundings hasn’t been a problem.

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

In fact, it feels so much like home, when Boyd looks up into the stands at Dignity Health Sports Park this season, the summer days he and his father spent in those same seats won’t seem so far away.

“I have many dreams and I ticked a few dreams off that list playing in Europe,” he said. “Playing here also. It’s a huge club, huge opportunities. If you do well here, you never know what could happen.


“But I’d love to play here for many years.”