Galaxy Reserves look to help first team break out of slump
CARSON, Calif. – Anyone who had doubts about the importance of the LA Galaxy’s Reserve League matches need look no further than last Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Portland.
There definitely has been a carryover effect from that win and positive vibes for a team that has been desperate for any bit of good news in what has been a surprisingly disappointing start, to say the least, for the first team.
“It can’t hurt,” head coach Bruce Arena said this week of the reserves’ success.
WATCH: Reserve Match Highlights
“Every time you go out there and get a ‘W’ it’s something to build off of,” said Galaxy right back Bryan Jordan, a regular performer in the reserve matches who also has made two starts for the first team this season. “I think the whole team recognizes it.”
The Galaxy reserves, 2-1-1 and in second place in the West behind Vancouver, are unbeaten in their last three matches. Head coach Curt Onalfo also acknowledged the residual effect from the victory in Portland.
“Anytime you’re going through a difficult stretch, winning games is important,” he said. “The fact we were up 2-0 and we were able to hold on to a lead, we’ve had cases this year where we’ve been up in first team games and have given up leads, I think it gives us confidence.”
Another, more wide-ranging, benefit to the reserve matches has been opportunity. Young players who may not get much of a look with the first team are getting a chance to put their skills on display in a competitive setting.
And with the Galaxy struggling as they are – just 3-8-2 and last in the Western Conference – and Arena and his staff continually seeking to find the right lineup combinations, reserve matches can be extremely important in providing more options.
Kenney Walker, a second-round draft pick this year and another regular reserve performer, having started all four Reserve League games, made his first start of the season in the club’s last regular season game in Houston.
“I think these matches are very important,” he said. “They give the guys minutes and they keep them fresh and prepared for opportunities that are coming up. It’s just fun to get out there and actually play a game, not having to worry about playing against your own players or injuring your own players in practice. You’re out there competing for points instead of competing against each other.
“It’s also kind of refreshing to go out there and play against somebody wearing a different-color jersey.”
Said Jordan, “I enjoy them. You always want to do your best when you’re competing. You wouldn’t be a professional athlete if you didn’t take these games seriously.”
Onalfo said the benefits of the Reserve League are far-reaching, especially for the Galaxy during what has been a trying year.
“It keeps these guys in the mix,” he said. “It keeps them pushing them for first-team spots and it helps bring back players from injury. It serves a lot of purposes, it’s definitely a platform for players to perform and improve their standing.”
The Galaxy Reserves are back in action on Tuesday, June 12 at 11 a.m. PT in Vancouver against the Whitecaps.