CARSON, Calif. – Bryan Gaul’s professional career path has seen the onetime college forward transformed into a solid defender, but on Tuesday, the LA Galaxy got a taste of the 23-year-old’s attacking prowess.
In Tuesday’s 6-2 preseason victory over Club Tijuana, Gaul netted two goals while also serving as the only Galaxy player to go a full 90 minutes. Throughout the match, Gaul shined on both sides of the ball by making numerous dangerous runs forward while locking down the Tijuana right side of midfield.
After seeing his team take a 2-0 lead going into the half behind goals from Robbie Keane and Leonardo, Gaul stretched LA’s lead to 3-0 in the 65th minute when a Michael Stephens header found the defender, who chested the ball down and fired a left footed strike into the Tijuana net. [watch left] The second-year left back wasn’t done however, as he scored again in stoppage time by chipping goalkeeper Miguel Garcia to complete the brace. [watch right]
“Bruce was talking to me before the game about going forward a lot more and being aggressive and not just going forward, but when you go forward, try to take someone on and provide service,” said Gaul. “This [performance] was reminder of college because I scored some goals like this in college and it was good to do that again.”
Gaul’s goals were his first since his senior year at Bradley University when he tallied against current teammates Kenney Walker and Greg Cochrane’s Louisville Cardinals in a NCAA tournament second round match that ended in a double overtime victory for Louisville.
“He’s still learning the [left back] position and we’ve asked him to be a little more aggressive going forward and it was nice to see,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “While I don’t know what that was with the sixth goal and whether was intended or not, it still rewarded him for making a good play in the defensive half and going forward…He’s in his second year and the experiences should be adding up now to where he’s more comfortable each time that he steps on the field.”
Arena wasn’t the only one praising Gaul as his teammates were quick to join in.
“It was awesome. He was a forward at Bradley that he scores a bit,” said midfielder Hector Jimenez. “It was a fun game to be a part of and to see him do what he did is just awesome.”
“He was phenomenal... He stepped in there in some tough shoes to fill in Todd Dunivant’s and he did well. He was in the right positions, obviously getting forward is one of his good qualities and he showed a lot of that,” raved goalkeeper Brian Perk. “The first [goal] is especially was a world-class finish. That’s something that you expect to see Robbie Keane do. To see left back do that is pretty impressive.”
As LA prepare to play their final preseason game on Friday against the Colorado Rapids at Harder Stadium on the campus of UC Santa Barbara, Gaul admits that he’s progressed a great deal in his second full preseason.
“I’m getting better at [left back] by watching Todd [Dunivant] so [preseason has] been going pretty well,” said Gaul. “I gained fitness [from the game against Xolos] and it was good to get a match against an opponent from outside our league. They were quick and I needed that.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com