CARSON, Calif. – There’s no doubt that Gyasi Zardes was absolutely electric in Sunday’s 1-0 LA Galaxy victory over Chivas USA.
The 21-year-old Homegrown forward scored the game winner in the 44th minute of play and rattled off eight shots on the night—two more than Chivas managed as a team. Throughout the match, Zardes’ speed proved maddening for the Rojiblancos defenders as he repeatedly found space for himself and his teammates with his clever runs.
WATCH: Zardes' game-winning goal
For all his darting and weaving past defenders, Zardes’ goal was a calm finish as he was able to nod a Landon Donovan freekick off the post and into the back of the Chivas net for the only goal of the match.
“Good goal,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “He has a ways to go, but he’s an athletic kid with a pretty good understanding of the game. He had a bunch of opportunities and he can do a little bit better, but having said that, it was a great goal. He’s going to get better.”
LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane agreed.
“I thought that he was very good. He was a good outlet of us,” said Keane. “He’s very quick and very good in the air…he’s certainly grown as the more games as he’s played. He’s scoring goals and a lot of minutes is certainly going to help him.”
He may have scored the game-winning-goal, but it wasn’t a flawless performance for the young forward. Of his eight shots, just three ended up on frame with five ending up high or wide of the frame. With all of the chances coming either inside or near the edge of the 18-yard box, Zardes’ veteran teammate Landon Donovan feels that Zardes must show more poise in front of net.
“He was good. He still needs to do a better job of hitting the target when he gets chances,” said Donovan. “There are a lot of guys doing a lot of hard work to get him open looks like that, so when he gets those looks, he’s got to hit the target more often. We’re happy with the goal and we can build on it.”
WATCH: Postgame reaction from Zardes
Although Zardes was unable to convert more of his chances, Keane admitted that he’s grown by leaps and bounds since joining the team in preseason—particularly in his attacking movement.
“I think that he understands now where to run when to mix and match runs,” said Keane. “When to come and when to go long because with his pace, it’s vital that he stays on line of the defense because he’s so fast that he can get up behind them. He’s certainly better and you saw that with some of his runs and the link-up play was very, very good. He’s certainly grown.”
As for those chances missed, Zardes believes that the shots that he misses just make the goals even sweeter.
“It lets me know that any opportunity is a golden opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net,” the rookie asserted after the match.
But as the season rolls on, the Galaxy expect more from their 21-year-old forward and that means more goals.
“You have to remember that he missed two and a half months with a broken fifth metatarsal, so he’s just starting to get into a rhythm,” said Arena. “We’re hopeful that in the second half of the season he is going to get better.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com