His MLS debut in the books, LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes continues to build his fitness

SANDY, Utah – At long last, Gyasi Zardes had the chance to step onto the field. The 21-year-old Homegrown forward made his professional debut by going 37 minutes in the LA Galaxy’s 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake last Saturday. 

The moment was a tad bittersweet, however, as Zardes checked into the match at the 53rd minute for the injured Jack McBean, who was discovered to have a broken left clavicle following the match.  Once Zardes stepped onto the field, he became the third Galaxy player to make his professional debut in the 2-0 victory, joining starters Brian Rowe and Charlie Rugg. The last time that three Galaxy players made their MLS debuts was March 22, 2009 when A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Kyle Patterson participated in LA's 2-2 draw with D.C. United. 

“It was amazing,” Zardes told LA Galaxy Insider of his professional debut. “Just to have the opportunity to come onto the field and to contribute to the team felt great. They put me in for a reason so I just had confidence from the get go.”

A day later, Zardes went 45 minutes in the Galaxy’s 1-0 Reserve League defeat to Real Salt Lake. Dangerous from the outset, fatigue set in late in the first half as the forward was unable to create many chances for a Galaxy attack that struggled throughout.

But the fitness gained in the Reserve League match was a major boost for the rookie forward.

“I have to get my fitness up to par because I have been out for two months,” Zardes said. “To have my second [reserve] game is great. Fitness is the main key.”

With McBean injured, Zardes is expected to contend for minutes up top along with the likes of Jose Villarreal, Charlie Rugg, Robbie Keane, Chandler Hoffman, and Landon Donovan. Fighting for minutes with that distinguished group will be a challenge, but Zardes is eager to prove his worth.

“It sucks Jack got hurt, I take opportunity there is and there is an opportunity available,” Zardes said. “We have players like Jose [Villarreal] and other forwards, but I’m going to work hard and try to establish a role into the team. I really have to work hard in training and get my fitness up because the only thing that I want to do is contribute and help the team get better. ”