CARSON, Calif. – In his first season with the LA Galaxy, rookie Bryan Gaul has been “Johnny on the Spot” by playing three different positions this year, but in the club’s 3-1 victory over Chivas USA, the rookie may have finally found his home on the left side of the defense.
Making his first start for the club at left back since May 2, Gaul replaced the injured Todd Dunivant and was instrumental in shutting down the right side of the Chivas attack, neutralizing the likes of Ryan Smith and Jose Erik Correa for wide stretches of the match. Although Gaul enjoyed one of the better nights of his professional career, he assessed his performance as incomplete.
Highlights: LA 3, Chivas 1
“I thought I did okay,” said Gaul after his eighth professional appearance. “I wasn’t as good on the ball as I should have been, but defensively I thought I was pretty good.”
In just his fourth professional start, Gaul was given a tough task as he matched up against Chivas’ Smith, who was integral just days earlier in the Rojiblancos victory over the Portland Timbers. From the start, Gaul appeared up to the task as he was able to match the fleet-footed Smith and contain him from breaking through LA’s back four.
However, it was not a perfect performance for the rookie as Smith was able to best Gaul in the 52nd minute, going around him to help create Chivas’ lone goal of the night.
“I knew that he was going to be tricky,” Gaul said of Smith. “There was a lot of film that we watched on him and he has a lot of moves and tricks in his bag, but overall he wasn’t as effective as he has been in the past.”
Gaul’s performance against Chivas comes after the 22-year-old bounced around for much of the season, playing a variety of positions for the Galaxy including stints at left midfield, left back and central defense. While Gaul admits that his role as the Galaxy’s jack-of-all-trades has been “different”, the rookie believes that he may have found his place at left back.
“I’ve been playing all these different positions and I’m just trying to do what the team needs and Todd got injured, he’s a great player and I just have to try and fill in till he gets back,” Gaul said. “I’ve settled in a little bit better [at left back] than center back because I can go forward and that’s what I did in college a lot. I feel a lot more comfortable there.”
And Gaul’s rising comfort levels could not come at a better time for the youngster as after a stellar performance against Chivas; Gaul’s teammates have raised their expectations for the rookie.
“He did well,” said Galaxy defender Sean Franklin of Gaul’s performance. “And I think it’s important for him to play well especially since he hasn’t played so many games in his first year, but he’s doing great and we have a good player in him.”
Read Adam Serrano’s LA Galaxy Insider Blog at lagalaxy.com/insider