CARSON, Calif. – Robbie Keane and Todd Dunivant’s statuses remain up in the air for this weekend’s match against the Houston Dynamo, but if need be Charlie Rugg and Greg Cochrane are confident that they can step in for the veterans—after all, they’ve done it before.
Both players started in LA’s 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake last weekend and provided vital contributions to LA’s victory. Rugg notched the team’s second goal of the night, which was the first of his pro career, while Cochrane’s work rate at left back was vital in shutting down RSL’s right flank.
With the status of Keane and Dunivant still in doubt because of injuries, Rugg and Cochrane may be asked to resume their starting role against the Dynamo on Sunday, which is just fine with the Galaxy’s veterans.
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“It seems like we say the same thing every year, but Bruce does a great job of first identifying players that can help us and then the rest of coaching staff does a good job of preparing them so when they do come into the first team, they’re ready to play,” Landon Donovan said on Friday. “We expect that of them, but they also don’t feel pressure with that. They perform and they’re comfortable.”
Rugg has looked particularly comfortable since his goal as both Donovan and Mike Magee have remarked about the confidence that the 22-year-old has displayed in training this week. After dispatching any jitters early on against RSL, Rugg believes that he’s ready for a potential start against the Dynamo.
“I’m a little bit more comfortable having the first one out of the way. Otherwise, it’s just another game that I’ll be ready for,” said Rugg. “I recognize that [the game is an opportunity]. Each game that I get the opportunity, I take it for what it is and I prepare myself just as well for each one.”
Cochrane, who is a close friend and roommate of Rugg admits that there is more swagger in the forward’s game since he bagged his first goal.
“Getting his first goal in his first game, scoring goals, that’s what he does and that’s what he did in college. To be able to do it right away [in MLS] proves to him that he can do it at this stage,” Cochrane told LAGalaxy.com. “I think his confidence has gone up another level and you can tell that he’s a lot more confident in all his movements.”
But Rugg isn’t the only player who has been performing well as Cochrane has quickly climbed his way up the depth chart with two starts and three appearances for the Galaxy so far this season. Known for his speed and work rate, the 22-year-old defender has impressed this season in locking down the likes of FC Dallas midfielder Jackson and RSL’s Ned Grabavoy.
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Key to Cochrane’s development has been a constant dialogue with Dunivant, who continues to provide the rookie with tips.
“I talk to him and he notices little stuff that he tells me in terms of positioning or taking a step here or there,” Cochrane. “He tells me to keep doing what I’m doing because I’m doing well and to stay confident and play within myself.”
If Cochrane – or Rugg for that matter – are asked to start or take the field at any time during Sunday’s rematch of the last two MLS Cups, the defender believes that he’s prepared to go.
“I always feel ready to play whenever Bruce wants me to play. If it’s a starter role or if it’s coming off the bench,” Cochrane said. “Any way that I can help the team out, I always train like I’m going to be a starter because if I have that mentality then it doesn’t matter if I am one or not because I’ll always be ready.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com