Los Angeles Blues News Release -- www.labluesprosoccer.com
Thursday, March 1, 2012
FULLERTON, Calif. – The Los Angeles Blues are excited to announce they have signed defender Ebrima “E.J.” Jatta for the 2012 USL PRO season, pending league approval. The 25-year-old center back joins the Blues after spending seven years with Banjul Hawks FC in his native Gambia and after attracting interest from English Championship sides Reading FC and Norwich City in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
A 6-foot-3 intimidating presence and model athlete, Jatta was a member of the Gambian roster for the U-20 World Cup in Canada in 2007 and was called up to his country’s full squad for four CAF African Cup of Nations qualifiers between 2007 and 2009. After completing a first successful trial with the Blues late last year, he rejoined the team for this past Saturday’s exhibition match against the Mexican U-20 national team and turned in a standout performance throughout the 90 minutes.
Blues Head Coach Charlie Naimo remembered first bringing Jatta into camp nearly four months ago.
“In analyzing the 2011 season, we really wanted to improve on our defending,” he said. “When we saw E.J. during his initial trial with us, we instantly noticed that had the physical tools, was able to cover ground and showed great feet and composure under pressure. He looked like he could make an immediate impact and give us what we were looking for on the field, and on top of that he’s a also great guy who adds to the moral fabric of the team.
“When we had a chance to secure E.J., we jumped on it. His performance against Mexico absolutely validated that decision. He actually exceeded our expectations, given that our preseason hadn’t even officially started and that he looked extremely sharp nonetheless.”
Jatta himself is excited about the next chapter in his career and not afraid to set the bar high for himself and his new team.
“When my agent told me there was an opportunity to go on a trial with the Blues, I didn’t hesitate for a second,” he said. “When I came here, I was extremely impressed with the coaching staff and the fact that they had been able to attract a lot of very good players from all over the world. The way the coaches want the team to play really suits me. I like the fact that they’re putting great emphasis on our defending this year and show a lot of commitment to making me understand my role.
“It feels like I’m in the right environment to help me move on to the next level. I’m extremely happy about this opportunity and can’t wait to help the team succeed. My goal is to win the championship, have the best defense in the league and be part of a team that also scores a lot of goals and plays an entertaining style for our fans.”