CARSON, Calif. – In a match where the LA Galaxy struggled to create much in terms of their attack, defender Kofi Opare was one of the lone bright spots in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids.
Making his first career MLS start and filling in for U.S. international Omar Gonzalez, the rookie from the University of Michigan was efficient along the back line as he worked well with center back partner Leonardo as they held the Rapids scoreless until the 75th minute when a turnover led to a chance for forward Edson Buddle, who put Colorado up for good with a shot from 22-yards out.
Although Opare was one of the top performers in the defeat, the 22-year-old rookie defender admits that he’ll have to do much better when his number is called again.
“[I] could have been better, a lot better, [there were] mistakes here and there,” said Opare, who returned to full training days earlier after overcoming a knee infection that caused him to miss out on a Reserve League match last week against San Jose. “[There is] stuff I need to improve on, also my positioning and communication and obviously we didn’t get the win today. It would have been a lot better if we did.”
The stat sheet was a solid indicator of Opare’s aptitude in central defense as he made 13 clearances and recovered possession five times while completing 13 of 19 passes. The rookie was also able to form an effective partnership with Leonardo as the pair limited Colorado’s attempts to create inside the Galaxy penalty area, forcing them to resort to shots from distance.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was concise with his assessment of the rookie stating that he “did very well” in his MLS debut, but Opare’s efficient performance caught the eye of another workmanlike defender on LA’s back four.
“He did well for a very young guy. He had a little bit of experience in Champions League which is also tough,” said right back A.J. DeLaGarza. “I thought he held his own tonight for sure, he’s just a simple player and as a simple myself, I can appreciate that style.”
Barring an injury during international duty, Gonzalez is likely to slide back into his spot in central defense against D.C. United, placing Opare on the bench again. However, the rookie may return to the lineup as soon as next Wednesday when LA resume their CCL campaign against Isidro Metapán at StubHub Center.
If he does fight his way into the picture for that match, the defender admits that he’ll have to continue to improve as a center back.
“I think the most part is this result kind of humbled us knowing that we still need that much work to be done,” said Opare. “[But] there are still spots to fight for.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com