HOUSTON –Amid the frustration of the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 defeat to the Houston Dynamo, the team saw a glimpse of the future with the MLS debut of Homegrown Player Raul Mendiola.
Entering in the 65th minute for the largely ineffective Brazilian striker Samuel, Mendiola enjoyed a confident debut as he injected life into the Galaxy attack. It took just two minutes for the 20-year-old to register his first shot as he found himself in space at the top of the box and rifled a right-footed effort that curled just wide of Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall’s net.
Despite his youth, the young midfielder did not appear out of place during his 25 minute shift and drew praise from head coach Bruce Arena following LA’s defeat.
“He did fine,” the Galaxy boss said. “He’s still a young kid but he played with a lot of confidence and courage so hopefully he can build on that.”
The appearance came in just Mendiola’s second time on the Galaxy game day roster after he was an unused substitute in LA’s 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers a week earlier. After starting the season with LA Galaxy II, Mendiola has impressed with the USL PRO club with one goal and three assists in six appearances for Los Dos.
Although the speed of the USL PRO is much different than the fast-paced MLS, Mendiola revealed that the experience gained in the third division steeled him for his debut with the Galaxy first team.
“I take a lot from this debut because now I know what it’s like to step into a full stadium and play with top players at the next level,” Mendiola told LAGalaxy.com. “I’ll take this experience as I look to continue to improve. I just want to make the coach happy so that I can possibly see more minutes.
“The games with Galaxy II and training with both teams have helped me a lot,” he added. “It gave me a lot of experience to be ready for this day once it came around.”
With the Galaxy facing a full slate of matches before the World Cup break, Mendiola admits that he’ll be preparing himself to see heavy minutes as he looks to show the Galaxy why he deserves to be a regular on Arena’s squad.
“I just need to keep working hard and keep my head up as I do my job,” said Mendiola. “At the end of the day, it’s not up to me where I play or where I train, no matter where it is, I just have to do my best and work hard.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com