CARSON, Calif. – Samuel and Gyasi Zardes scored as the LA Galaxy won their first match at StubHub Center at 2014 on Saturday with a 2-0 victory.
SAMUEL AND GYASI ZARDES IMPRESS AGAINST FC SHIRAK
Bruce Arena highlighted the LA Galaxy’s need for depth up top at the end of 2013, but a trio of strong performances by forwards Samuel, Rob Friend and Gyasi Zardes will have the LA head coach smiling after their 2-0 victory against FC Shirak.
Getting the start against the Armenians, Friend and Samuel primarily served as facilitators for Landon Donovan who had several dangerous opportunities that were set up by the Canadian forward. While Friend helped orchestrate attacks, Samuel capitalized on his lone chance of the evening in the 35th minute when he calmly placed a shot from close range past the Armenian goalkeeper Artur Harutyunyan.
At the half, Zardes came on for Samuel and had an immediate impact as his speed caused havoc for the Shirak back line. The 22-year-old was rewarded in the 75th minute when he launched a shot from distance into the back of the net. Samuel and Friend will likely resume their partnership next week in LA’s two preseason matches, but if Zardes can continue to impress in training, he may carve out a spot in the starting lineup.
LEONARDO ENJOYS A HAPPY BIRTHDAY WITH DOMINANT DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
No one impressed more on the evening than the Galaxy’s Brazilian center back Leonardo who dominated the backline throughout his 63 minute shift for the Galaxy on Saturday—on his 26th birthday no less.
Starting alongside Omar Gonzalez, the Brazilian center back was under pressure throughout as the Armenians’ sought to attack the Galaxy high up the field from the get go. Although the rest of LA’s back four struggled at times, Leonardo put in a confident showing as he frequently made timely clearances that kept the heat off goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. No play was bigger in than his tackle in the 31st minute that prevented Serge Deble from shooting at an empty net after a giveaway by the LA ‘keeper.
Leonardo’s performance will likely keep him in Bruce Arena’s starting lineup heading into two important preseason matches next week.
RIGHT BACK TRIALISTS IMPRESS IN SECOND HALF SHOWING
LA Galaxy trialists Dan Gargan and James Riley had their chance to prove to Bruce Arena why they deserve roster spots in 2014, and both gave a fair account of themselves with strong showings in LA’s victory over FC Shirak.
Gargan started the second half at right back and immediately showcased his poise at the position by several clearances of Shirak forays up field. With Gargan on the right side, Riley was stationed on the opposite flank and performed well as he helped neutralize talented Shirak midfielder Davit Hakobyan. But Riley’s finest moment came in the 71st minute when he was able to bail out goalkeeper Brian Perk with a clearance from just inside the eight yard box.
While Gargan and Riley impressed on Saturday, the Galaxy’s third right back trialist Matheau Hall did not appear in the Galaxy’s victory as he watched the match from the bench.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him atLAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com