CARSON, Calif. – It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the LA Galaxy on their just-concluded, three-game road trip.
There was, after all, a resounding 4-1 victory in Philadelphia over the Union that served as the perfect elixir for a 3-1 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Another positive development from their nine-day swing across the country was the play of Hector Jimenez on the right side of midfield.
The 24-year-old native of Bell Gardens was a second-round draft pick (34th overall) out of Cal Berkeley in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. He has played in the last five games after playing just once in LA's first 10 games of 2013 and scored his first goal of the season against the Union.
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He almost had another in last Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls, only for a sliding tackle by New York defender Jamison Olave to deny him a goal that would have given LA a 1-0 lead late on.
“I’ve watched it a few times and I should have done better on that play,” Jimenez said. “Those plays can define you as a player sometimes.”
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena approached Jimenez just before the start of the trip and told him he probably would see some playing time. The news almost was like music to Jimenez’s ears after he had been languishing on the bench and trying to get back on the field.
It appears his patience has paid off.
“He’s getting better, a little more confident,” Arena said about Jimenez. “He’s done a good job. He got a little tired at the end of the game the other day, but it’s only natural for Hector.
“I think he’s played more minutes in the last week than he probably has all year. It weighs you down a little bit.”
Jimenez, through encouragement from assistant coach Curt Onalfo, associate head coach Dave Sarachan and teammates like Sean Franklin and Landon Donovan, never lost his confidence or resolve.
But he did admit it was a trying experience at times.
“The hardest part is being patient and waiting for your chance,” he said. “All you can do is keep working and wait for your name to be called. When it does, just go out and play.”
Even now, with Jimenez a semi-regular in the starting XI, Jimenez won’t relax. He knows he can’t afford to.
“Even when I’m on the field now,” he said, “I have to keep working and hoping the chances will keep coming.
“Recently I’ve been playing, so hopefully I can keep contributing.”