Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal look to put Champions League lessons to practice in MLS play
FRISCO, Texas— The CONCACAF Champions League is over for the time being for the LA Galaxy, but now that their participation in the tournament has ended, LA will look to build off the experiences gained in continental competition.
Galaxy Homegrown forwards Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal logged heavy minutes throughout the tournament making five and six appearances respectively. Those appearances were quickly translated to goals as McBean tallied a team-best four while Villarreal notched two of his own.
With both poised to play a larger role with the first team in the regular season, LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena believes the onus will be on the youngsters to put what they’ve learned to good use.
“They are good experiences and hopefully it aspires them to become better players and want to play in big games and be big players in big games,” Arena told LAGalaxy.com. “They’ve had a great taste of the CONCACAF Champions League in their last two years so it’s an invaluable experience for them.”
For McBean, the tournament allowed the forward to receive heavy acclaim and attention from opposing teams. Even foreign media took notice as prior to LA’s 1-0 defeat against Monterrey on Wednesday, Monterrey daily La Aficion labeled McBean as a player that the Rayados defense needed to be keenly aware of at all times.
In the end, McBean did find his opportunities, coming on as a late substitute in the 80th minute, but ultimately was unable to help LA find the tying goal.
“The tournament was good,” McBean told LAGalaxy.com. “I would have liked to have done better last night, but we played against a really good team and couldn’t get a result. My stats aren’t what I’m looking at most, I’m simply focused in what the team is doing and helping us get wins and play well.”
One moment stood out above all others for the 18-year-old striker: his sterling performance against Isidro Metapán in El Salvador during the group stage. It was on the field at the Estadio Jorge Calero Suárez where McBean had one of his finest performances as a professional.
Active from the outset, McBean repeatedly tested the Metapán backline and even forced the Salvadorans into an early defensive substitution while scoring two goals in a 3-2 win to help LA seal the top spot in Group 5 and the No. 4 seed heading into the quarterfinals.
“This tournament helped me a lot,” said McBean. “Especially playing in front of those fans [in El Salvador] and playing in 90 minutes in an atmosphere like that was very good for me.”
Their development has a particular end goal for both strikers: helping the Galaxy win games and ultimately the CCL.
“We just have to move forward and learn from this,” Villarreal told LAGalaxy.com. “Make ourselves better so that we’ll be able to take those teams down next year or whenever we come up against them next.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com