LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review: Gyasi Zardes
Now that the 2013 season is over, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will look back on the season for every player who was on the club’s roster at some point during the season.
The LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review will begin with players who made the least number of appearances for the club in all official competitions over the course of the year, starting with Brian Perk and Bryan Gaul, who did not make any appearances for the first team this year, and concluding with midfielder Marcelo Sarvas who played in a team-best 42 games for LA this year. There will also be an evaluation of head coach and general manager Bruce Arena and his moves at the conclusion of the list.
We will have one or two evaluations per day and focus on what each player did well and what challenges they faced in 2013 as well as a select thought from the player on their performance and an overall assessment of their season from myself.
APPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS FOR THE GALAXY: GP: 33 (27 in MLS Regular Season, Three in CONCACAF Champions League, two in MLS Cup Playoffs, and one in U.S. Open Cup); GS: 25 (23 in MLS Regular Season and two in MLS Cup Playoffs); G: 4 (All in MLS regular season); A: 4 (All in MLS regular season)
APPERANCES IN GUINNESS INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP: GP: 3
APPEARANCES IN MLS RESERVE LEAGUE: GP: 3; GS: 3; G: 2; A: 1
HIGHLIGHTS: During Gyasi Zardes’ rookie season, he showcased that he has the talent to become one of the league’s most dynamic scoring threats. In his first year as a professional, Zardes battled back from preseason surgery on a broken fifth metatarsal to return to action in April. It didn’t take long for the rookie to find the back of the net as he scored his first professional goal in his third MLS appearance during LA’s 3-1 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on May 11. By May 26, Zardes had locked down a starting spot that he did not relinquish for the remainder of the team’s league campaign tallying three more goals --- including an acrobatic tally against the Whitecaps in July—and four assists. Zardes began his run of starts as a forward, but gradually began to transition to a left side of midfield role that became his permanent position following LA’s participation in the Guinness International Champions Cup in August. The position seemed to be a natural role for a player of Zardes’ speed and on Oct. 6, he enjoyed his finest performance tallying a goal and two assists in the Galaxy’s 5-0 victory over Chivas USA.
CHALLENGES: For all of Zardes’ success in his rookie year, his goal total could have been exponentially higher if he was able to finish his numerous scoring opportunities. The rookie forward finished the season with a team-leading 78 shots—which placed him among the top-15 in all of MLS—however just 23 of those attempts were on target. This inability to get shots on target hampered the Galaxy attack which lacked a third scoring option behind forwards Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. Zardes’ poor finishing cost the Galaxy dearly during their Western Conference Semifinal Series against Real Salt Lake. In two starts, Zardes managed five shots (three in the decisive second leg) none of which forced a save from RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. In LA’s 2-0 second leg defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium, Zardes was also unable to contain Chris Schuler on Salt Lake’s game-winning goal in extra time.
HIS THOUGHTS: “I want to improve and take this year in consideration. I want to learn from the rookie year and work extremely hard during the offseason and once we begin the preseason. I won’t have a surgery [to recover from]. I’ll have a year under my belt and I expect to mature.”
OVERVIEW: Gyasi Zardes has the ability to become a major weapon in the LA Galaxy attack and now he just has to fulfill his great promise. In his rookie year, the speedy forward turned midfielder made a habit of terrorizing opposing defenses, but without the final touch, his production was a shadow of what it could have been. Putting this all together will be Zardes’ greatest challenge in a second season that will see him garner even more responsibility in the attack. Zardes is well aware that capitalizing on his scoring opportunities is his final hurdle as the forward could be seen practicing his finishing after Galaxy training sessions throughout the year, a tactic that will likely continue next year. If Zardes can improve his shooting accuracy, expect him to blossom into a vaunted scoring threat in 2014.
POLL: How would you rate Gyasi Zardes’ 2013 season?
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com