CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Tommy Meyer played 84 minutes in his first official start as a professional on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center and looked more like a cool, calm veteran in a raucous atmosphere.
But the rookie central defender had nothing to show for his efforts, except for a blister on his left foot. That certainly was less painful than the Galaxy’s season-opening, 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake in front of a sellout crowd of 27,000.
“It’s nice to get the first game under my belt, but obviously the result isn’t what we wanted,” he said.
Meyer, the Galaxy’s first round pick choice in the recent MLS SuperDraft, was told earlier in the day he would start and approached it as calmly as he could. He was tested in the opening minutes, when Real Salt Lake’s Paulo Araujo, Jr., slipped into the penalty area, but Meyer calmly knocked the ball away and out of trouble.
He continued to impress until he was replaced by Chad Barrett with just six minutes left in regulation.
“He did a tremendous job from my point,” fellow center back A.J. DeLaGarza said. “I didn’t have to talk to him much. He’s on a man, and that’s all you can ask for him is to mark a forward.
“I never worried about him.”
The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder, who is expected to help ease the loss of Omar Gonzalez, who will miss most if not all of the season after recently undergoing major knee surgery, admitted he was nervous for the first 10 to 15 minutes Saturday. But having experienced teammates like Sean Franklin, DeLaGarza and Todd Dunivant on the back line helped him settle down, he said, along with the likes of David Beckham and Marcelo Sarvas – also making his first start Saturday – in front of him.
Meyer said the news that he would start ahead of Andrew Boyens, who got the nod in last Wednesday’s 2-2 tie against Toronto FC in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, didn’t come as much of a surprise, since opportunities like Saturday’s were what he had been preparing for all along.
“He (Arena) expects everyone, no matter what, to be ready to play,” Meyer said. “Show up and play. Coming in as a rookie I know the concentration has to be a lot higher. I think I learned from a couple of games in the preseason where I made a couple mistakes.
“Coming in tonight I wanted to eliminate those.”
Meyer said he also benefited from watching last Wednesday’s wild scene from the bench in Toronto – “I kind of took that as a chance to let it sink in a little bit,” he said – and called Saturday’s game a special night despite the result.
“It’s definitely something I’ve been waiting for a long time,” he said. “It’s just nice to get it over with and it’s a good experience.
Obviously not the result I would have liked in the first game, but now you just move on.”
Don’t call him a veteran yet, however.
“No, definitely not,” he said with a grin.