COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Stepping in for a trusted veteran is a tall order for any rookie, but on Sunday LA Galaxy defender Tommy Meyer was up to the task as he filled in for the injured A.J. DeLaGarza.
DeLaGarza went down in the 30th minute of play after a hard collision with Colorado Rapids forward Omar Cummings. With DeLaGarza sidelined with an apparent left knee sprain, head coach Bruce Arena called upon Meyer to fill the hole in central defense.
In 56 minutes of action, Meyer proved more than capable as he helped the Galaxy withstand heavy pressure from the Rapids to preserve a 1-1 draw on the night. Despite making his first-ever appearance alongside Omar Gonzalez and his first appearance in a league game since May 5, Meyer was the vision of poise despite the trying circumstances.
“I’m ready and I have to be ready every game that’s been my mindset throughout the second half of the season,” Meyer said after the match. “It’s hard to come into a game like that, but when you have Omar and Todd [Dunivant] next to you, it makes it easier.”
Even though it was Meyer’s first league appearance in five months, the rookie has maintained his fitness through appearances in the CONCACAF Champions League and with the Galaxy reserve squad. Meyer has started the club’s last two CCL matches, helping the Galaxy keep a shutout in both occasions.
Following the match, Meyer admitted that his CCL appearances have helped keep him fit during his rookie season and his teammates agreed.
“He’s stepped up his game a lot,” defender Todd Dunivant said. “It’s never easy coming in as a rookie in this league and I think that he’s really found his footing in the last couple months and he showed it tonight.”
The veteran left back credited the Champions League with helping Meyer grow.
“[In CCL] guys have had chances to play in big games and it makes a difference,” he said. “He’s able to step in and do a great job and we’re really happy about that.”
While DeLaGarza’s condition remains in question, Meyer is expected to be in the mix of options to start alongside Gonzalez in central defense for LA’s next match, this Saturday against Real Salt Lake. Meyer will have plenty of competition for the spot, however, as veterans Andrew Boyens and David Junior Lopes and rookie Bryan Gaul will each be contending for the starting role as well.
The competition is of little concern to the resolute rookie, who welcomes the challenge to fill in for the injured DeLaGarza—however long that may be.
“It’s pretty easy to fit in with these guys,” Meyer said. “They talk to you a lot and they’re so experienced that it makes [playing the game] easy. I’ve been working throughout the whole season, but whatever happens, I’ll be good.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@gmail.com