CARSON, Calif. – Yes, this figures to be an important year for the LA Galaxy’s Jack McBean. Yes, expectations are high for the Newport Beach native.
But before anybody puts any undue pressure on the youngest player to ever score a goal in club history, one important fact must not be overlooked.
He isn’t even 20.
“You gotta remember that,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of McBean, who turns 20 in mid-December. “He’s 19 years old. I don’t think his career is yet defined.”
It’s hard to digest McBean already is in his fourth season with the Galaxy – “I can’t believe I’m saying that; it’s pretty crazy,” he said with a smile after training this week – but it’s true. McBean joined the Galaxy Academy’s U-16 team in the summer of 2010 and made his first appearance with the big club in a friendly against Manchester City in July of 2011. He played in his first MLS game in October of that year against the Houston Dynamo, against whom he scored his historic goal.
McBean is coming off a season in which he made 21 appearances in all competitions, more than double his combined total of the two previous seasons, and had a goal and two assists before suffering a broken left clavicle in a collision with Real Salt Lake’s Nat Borchers in late April.
McBean was sidelined until June after the injury and never seemed to recapture his earlier form.
He went to England in December for two weeks of training with League One’s Wolverhampton Wanders and Football League Championship side Blackburn Rovers and is in camp hopeful of a big year.
Whether that will happen with the first team remains to be seen, but he certainly is a prime candidate to play on the Galaxy’s new Galaxy II, which will compete in USL Pro, a division of U.S. soccer just below that of MLS. The Galaxy is the first MLS team to field a side (it will be made up of first-teamers, Galaxy Academy players and its own signings) in the league.
“I think it’s awesome,” McBean said. “I’m excited to see what my role on that team is going to be. Obviously they’re going to have a full season, which is cool, and play against good competition.
“That’s what we need, play in games and score goals.”
Added Arena, “I think Jack, like a couple other players in his situation, will be able to use the USL club this year to give him a lot more experience in games as well.
“It’s his job, whether it’s with our team or the USL team, to earn his right on the field and make something of those opportunities.”
McBean remains hopeful of getting such chances. He feels the experience in England was beneficial – “Just seeing how the game is different over there, the intensity,” he said – and so far, so good in camp.
“I came into preseason I thought pretty fit; I’m doing all right,” he said. “I’m comfortable with the guys and I have confidence in myself.
“I just want to be better than last year, get more first-team minutes, score more goals and help the team.”