CARSON, Calif. – The starts have begun piling up for LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Gyasi Zardes, but goals have been elusive. However, with a stunning individual effort on Saturday, Zardes was able to find the back of the net and help seal a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Zardes scored the game-winner in the 57th minute of play after fellow Homegrown forward Jose Villarreal canceled out an early strike by Camilo with a goal of his own in 29th minute. With their finishes on Saturday, both Galaxy forwards have scored three goals apiece in all competitions in 2013.
But Zardes’ was truly one for the highlight reel.
The play begun with a lofted pass from left back Todd Dunivant, who caught sight of Zardes making a darting run up field.
“There was a lot of space and I had the ball kind of deep, and he gave me the motion to send it deep. I put it into space for him then he chased it down and made a nice little move,” said Dunivant. “He’s quick; I knew that he was going to get to it. That’s the good thing about Gyasi is that you can put it out there and he’s going to go chase it down.”
With the ball at his feet, Zardes put forth a great effort to keep the ball from crossing the end line while shaking defender Brad Rusin off balance and then firing the ball past a late charging Johnny Leverón and Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
“I saw the ball get played in and I just tried to be composed in the box. I tried to juke defender and he slipped…I struck the ball and it went in,” said Zardes, who was making his 10th consecutive start for LA. “I always hear fans yelling at me telling me to ‘score one with your feet! Score one with your feet!’ and I finally did it, and it feels good.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster, but at the end of the day, I always tell myself that I have to keep working hard. I have to.”
Zardes’ goal wasn’t the only highpoint for the young forward, however, as he seemed particularly savvy at the end of the match. With the Galaxy were seeking to close out the game and prevent the another of the late collapses that have plagued them all season, Zardes repeatedly gained possession and rushed the ball to the corner flag in an effort to kill off time.
“I’m paying attention to what my coaches have told me about killing the game off,” said Zardes. “I didn’t do anything silly and just really tried to kill off time.”
Zardes’ goal may be one that he’ll remember for some time, but Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena understands that his team will need more from the 21-year-old and the rest of the attacking players in the future.
“The goal was an important goal, but it’s going to take a little time,” said Arena. “He’s still a young player for our league, but he works hard and I’m confident that he’ll continue to get better.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com