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SANDY, Utah—LA Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk waited nearly two years in between MLS starts so when he received word from Bruce Arena that he was needed to start in place of starter Jaime Penedo, he knew that he had to make the most of the opportunity.
With Penedo unavailable after attending to his visa in Panama earlier in the week, Perk was given the nod against Real Salt Lake after a confident preseason that saw him lock down the Galaxy’s backup role.
Despite not playing an MLS regular season match since 2012, and after suffering through repeated concussion injuries in 2013, Perk was solid in the Galaxy’s 1-1 draw.
“For me personally, I thought it was okay because I only had to make one save, but as a team I thought we defended really well outside of the goal,” Perk told reporters following the draw at Rio Tinto Stadium. “I didn’t see too much action so I have to credit the defense for making it easy in terms of chances on me.”
The typically offensive-minded RSL side was limited to just two shots on frame despite Arena opting to make a number of changes to his starting lineup. In addition to playing A.J. DeLaGarza in central defense alongside Omar Gonzalez, Arena went for a diamond midfield formation, which placed significant numbers in the center of the park, clogging up the passing channels for Salt Lake.
Despite LA’s organizational efforts, a defensive lapse in the 19th minute resulted in a goal for Salt Lake striker Alvaro Saborio, who slid behind the Galaxy defense on a free kick to beat Perk for the opener. The 24-year-old was not tested again until the 57th minute when with the scored tied at one apiece; Perk thwarted Salt Lake attacker Ned Grabavoy’s low driving far post effort to keep the score even for good.
"He played very well,” said Arena. “His big save on Grabavoy made a difference in the game."
With Penedo in line to start LA’s next match on April 6, Perk will return to the bench, but if called upon again, he claims that he’s ready for action.
“I feel good. I played a good amount in the preseason this year which was nice so I was definitely ready for this game as opposed to previous years,” said Perk. “I definitely felt comfortable from minute one which was great.”