Arena lauds Juninho's performance in RSL defeat

CARSON, Calif. -- There was no 45 yard stunner goal on Saturday, but Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena was full of praise for the performance of Brazilian midfielder Juninho in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake. 

Juninho's play in the midfield was at the forefront of an early deludge by the Galaxy in the opening stages of the game as LA put considerable pressure on RSL as they searched for an early goal. The Brazilian provided the spark that led to Robbie Keane's goal in the 17th minute when he launched a pinpoint cross towards the Irishman that Keane fired on a left-footed volley into the back of the net.

RSL would take the lead for good minutes later when Fabian Espindola tallied a pair of goals in the 25th and 28th minutes, but that did not prevent Juninho from trying to do his part in getting LA back in the game. Juninho rattled off four shots on the night, including one shot that rattled the cross bar in the sixth minute and another in the 87th that was saved by Nick Rimando.

However, that was not the only place on the stat sheet that showcased Juninho's impact as he made a total 72 successful passes out of his 78 attempts along with an impressive ten recoveries and two interceptions. 

Below are Arena's thoughts on Juninho...

(On Juninho’s performance..)

ARENA: “I think Juninho played quite well for us tonight. If we had nine other players who played like Juninho tonight I think we would have won the game.”

(On the defense against Juninho...)

ARENA: “I’m not sure [they were pressing Juninho]. He got a little space when he hit that crossbar. I don’t think that was an issue, but I think they did play well, they did defend well; they deserved to win the game.”