CARSON, Calif. – Now that the 2014 season is over and the LA Galaxy are once again champions of MLS, LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano will look back on the season with his review on each position. Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes will each have their own review.
The LA Galaxy Insider Year in Review will begin with goalkeepers and then move up the field to defenders, midfielders, forwards, and finally, coaches.
APPPEARANCES IN ALL OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS:
- GP: 38 (32 in MLS regular season, five in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in U.S. Open Cup and two in CONCACAF Champions League)
- GS: 30 (26 in MLS regular season, five in MLS Cup Playoffs, two in U.S. Open Cup and two in CONCACAF Champions League)
- G: 19 (16 in MLS regular season, two in U.S. Open Cup and one in MLS Cup Playoffs)
- A: 2 (in MLS regular season)
A year after being chastised for wasteful finishing, LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Gyasi Zardes finally found his scoring groove as he scored 19 goals in all competitions during his sophomore season with the club. For a team that had searched throughout 2013 for a legitimate third scoring option alongside Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, Zardes’ emergence was vital to the Galaxy’s championship campaign.
The 23-year-old began the year slow without a goal in the club’s first 10 matches in all competitions, but as spring turned into summer, Zardes found his scoring touch. From the beginning of June to the end of August, Zardes formed a lethal strike partnership with Robbie Keane and began finding the back of the net in bunches as the forward from Hawthorne scored 14 goals during the summer months. Zardes’ blazing run included an impressive four-game scoring streak (from July 28 to Aug. 16), which tied him with Keane’s own four-game streak for the longest goal-scoring run of the club’s 2014 campaign.
Although Zardes’ numbers took a down swing during the end of the season with just four goals in the final eight games of the regular season, the Galaxy striker ended the campaign with a total of 16 goals, setting a new scoring record among MLS Homegrown Players. But he saved his best –and most important—goal for last as Zardes broke his two month goalless run with a brilliant individual tally during the second half of the MLS Cup final against the New England Revolution that eventually helped LA lift their record fifth MLS Cup title.
Now that Gyasi Zardes has found his finishing touch, the next step for the 23-year-old will be finding the back of the net on a more consistent basis.
During the 2014 season, Zardes showcased all the attributes of a striker who is still very much a work in progress. At times, he was the confident forward who bagged 16 goals and scored in the MLS Cup, but he was also prone to lengthy scoring droughts. The longest such dearth occurred at the start of the season as Zardes started the season painfully slow with just one goal in his first 11 league matches. The forward, however, soon caught fire with a summer-long goal spree that helped the Galaxy rocket up the standings.
Perhaps even more important was Zardes’ scoring drought during the Galaxy’s stretch run as Zardes went two months –and eight games—between goals from his 16th MLS regular season tally on Sept. 28 to his dramatic goal during the MLS Cup final on Dec. 7. Had Zardes’ final goal of the year not come at such a crucial time for the Galaxy, his entire season could have been judged in a far different light.
With Landon Donovan now retired and Robbie Keane another year older in 2015, the LA Galaxy will require even more production from their 23-year-old Hawthorne native.
Zardes improved by leaps and bounds after a frustrating 2014 season, but the Galaxy will need to see greater consistency out of the forward next season. Too often, Zardes showed himself to be a streaky goal scorer and with Donovan out of the picture in 2015, he’ll have to become a more reliable contributor to a new-look Galaxy attack.
Galaxy coaches attributed Zardes’ improvement in 2014, to his confidence and decisiveness in front of frame, particularly after a 2013 season that saw him rack up 78 shots—four more than 2014—and just four goals. But heading into next season, Zardes must show that he can shoulder more of the offensive burden on his own, particularly, as the club looks to transition from the Donovan era to the arrival of new Designated Player Steven Gerrard in mid-July.
As he looks to mature as a forward, Zardes will have to learn how to balance a new venture with his growing role with the Galaxy as he was recently included in the U.S. National Team’s January camp. Despite still being a forward who could use polish in front of goal, Zardes’ budding confidence should make him contender for more appearances for the USMNT and possibly a regular place with Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad ahead of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.