CARSON, Calif. – The attention and acclaim for LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Gyasi Zardes was completely understandable once the flashy 21-year-old striker signed with LA in January. Now nearing a full recovery after a crack in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot cut him down in preseason, Zardes is ready to turn some of that potential into production.
Zardes went 17 minutes in the Galaxy’s 1-1 Reserve League draw with Seattle Sounders FC on Monday in his first action since starting a 3-0 preseason victory over USL Pro side Los Angeles Blues on Feb. 5. The attacker’s speed and nose for goal was clearly unmistakable in two preseason appearances, but on Feb. 11, Zardes was forced to the sidelines after undergoing surgery to foot surgery after a freak incident with a pair of running shoes.
Since the injury, Zardes has drawn positive reviews for his recovery and after training with the team during their six day, two-country road trip last week and an appearance in a reserve match; he is feeling more positive than ever.
“I'm feeling pretty good. I haven't played a game in so long, but it felt good to be out there again. I felt fatigued after a couple of sprints, but that's normal coming back from injury,” said Zardes. “For me coming in, I definitely need to work on my fitness. It's a practice game and that's how they told me to consider it so I did.”
Immediately after coming on, Zardes wasted no time creating a chance against Seattle, but despite receiving a pass inside the penalty area, he was unable to find a waiting teammate to create a chance on goal. Zardes made several more dangerous runs during his brief shift, but was unable to fire a shot on frame. After the match, Galaxy assistant coach and Reserve League head coach Curt Onalfo took note of Zardes’ performance.
“Gyasi brought some good energy when he came on, he had a chance,” Onalfo said. “He did well and it would have been nice to sneak in a goal there.”
Key to Zardes’ recovery was that trip to Monterrey and Dallas where he was able to experience life on the road with his team for the first time in his young career. During that sojourn, LA head coach Bruce Arena allowed the youngster to train briefly with the team, leading to Zardes’ Reserve League appearance.
“The coaches have been utilizing me and helping me get in slowly,” said Zardes. "[Monday], they gave me the last 10 to 15 minutes, which I'm thankful of to get back in the swing of things.”
Zardes’ recovery will undergo another benchmark on Wednesday as the rookie forward will train with the club fully for the first. Hungry to finally make his mark with his hometown club, Zardes can’t wait to make his debut.
“I'm so excited and I've been out for so long,” said Zardes. “I've been anxiously waiting and it’s going to feel great coming back.”