CARSON, Calif. – The two-time defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy may be plagued by inconsistency lately, having lost five of their last seven matches in all competitions, but there has been at least one positive development through the first third of the 2013 campaign.
Signed as a Homegrown player in December, Gyasi Zardes has made seven appearances since recovering from preseason foot surgery and has started each of his team’s last two league games. A native of Hawthorne Calif., Zardes has left a favorable impression, to say the least, on his coaches and teammates, scoring his first goal in a Galaxy uniform on May 11 in a 3-1 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC and nearly added to that tally in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to New England, only to see his early shot end up on the wrong side of the post.
Zardes fires wide from Donovan flick
Zardes said he still thinks about that second-minute misfire against the Revolution. He wound up putting his right-footed shot into the side of the net from a tight angle after collecting a Landon Donovan flick in stride.
“I’d love to do that over,” he said. “I’d love to have another opportunity like that.”
Zardes will be hoping to get at least one chance come Saturday when the Galaxy finish a stretch that will see them play six of seven games on the road from May 11-June 8. With Robbie Keane in Dublin with the Irish national team, Zardes will likely be asked to once again lead the line against RSL. While still growing accustomed to the caliber in MLS, Zardes has drawn praise from Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, who continues to be impressed with the 21-year-old’s athleticism.
“He’s a little inconsistent, but that’s to be expected,” Arena said of Zardes, who scored 38 goals in a three-year career at Cal State Bakersfield. “He’s moving closer to being in good, physical form. He just has to get a little better tactically.
“He’s a good player, he works hard and he has a pretty good feel for the game.”
Zardes scores first MLS goal vs Vancouver
Zardes, who missed most of the first two months of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a cracked bone in his left foot in late-January, made his professional debut the last time the Galaxy visited Rio Tinto Stadium, replacing the injured Jack McBean in the 53rd minute of LA’s 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake.
Zardes, who has started and played 80-plus minutes in each of the last two league games, said the nerves have long subsided as he continues to step on the field.
“I’m starting to feel very comfortable,” he said “The more starts, the more confidence builds as opposed to coming in as a sub.
“My confidence is definitely boosting.”
Zardes also said he’s finally gotten to the point where he feels he belongs on the field.
“Oh yeah,” he said. I’m working hard in training so I can have a spot out there. That’s what everybody wants.
“I feel I’m working hard enough to get a spot. But I have to keep working because nothing is certain.”