LOS ANGELES – The first time goalkeeper David Bingham trained with the home side at StubHub Center he was with the U.S. national team. So when he returned this week to begin training with the Galaxy, at least he knew his way around.
Yet a lot has happened between that 2016 call-up to Jurgen Klinsmann’s January camp and his first practice with the Galaxy. In between he played three games for the national team without giving up a goal, pitched 15 shutouts for the San Jose Earthquakes and was named an MLS All-Star.
Oh, and he also lost his job — which is how he wound up in a Galaxy jersey in the first place.
In his first two years as a starter in San Jose, Bingham tied for the MLS lead with 20 shutouts, leading the Earthquakes to offer him a long-term contract before the 2017 season.
As the negotiations dragged on, however, Bingham tired of talking and said he wouldn’t re-sign. And in August, with Bingham at the end of a stretch in which he allowed 13 goals in five games, the team benched him.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that they’re definitely correlated,” Bingham said of the contract situation and his subsequent benching.
“It was definitely to the point where it just wasn’t going to work anymore,” he added. “I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.”
The Earthquakes, through a team spokeswoman, declined comment. But while Bingham’s move to the Galaxy will give him a chance to start over, he’s not looking at it more as a chance to pick up where he left off last summer.
“It’s not starting from scratch. You’re not a different player than [the one] called into the national team for the last two years,” said Bingham, whose rights the Galaxy acquired in exchange for $200,000 in allocation money. “So the stuff’s all there. It’s just you continue to get better.”
The Galaxy could really use improvement at the goalkeeper position — they gave up a franchise-record 67 goals last season. As a result, Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid’s winter housecleaning swept away all three of last year’s keepers and replaced them with Bingham, 28, and USL veteran Brian Sylvestre, 25.
Dominic Kinnear, the coach who made Bingham the starter with the Earthquakes and now a Galaxy assistant, said he thinks a change of scenery will do Bingham well after his bitter breakup in San Jose.
“It’s a fresh start,” he said. “It’s a new coach, new teammates. We had a couple of conversations and I told him I think he’s going to like it down here.”
Not that it took much to sell him on the move. Shortly after the Galaxy claimed him, Bingham, a Castro Valley native who had never lived outside the Bay Area, moved into an apartment in Hermosa Beach.
“Every time you experience a new place, a new culture, new people you always learn a little bit more about yourself,” said Bingham, one of 10 new players on the Galaxy roster. “You can always pick up a few things that will help you in the long run. So I’m definitely excited for that.”
By the way, he’s also had a change of heart regarding long-term contracts — at least with the Galaxy. Terms weren’t disclosed, but Bingham, who made $197,750 last season according to the MLS Players Assn, offered this confirmation with a smile.
“I’m very happy to be here. And I look forward to the next three years here.”
Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11