USA Today Sports

Players see Reserve League game as opportunity to shine

CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Charlie Rugg still can’t forget the goal he scored in his professional debut on April 27 in a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake. He said he felt “on top of the world.”

WATCH: Rugg scores in opener

But moments like that have been few and far between for the rookie out of Boston College, which is why he and a number of reserves are especially looking forward to Saturday’s Reserve League match against USL Pro side LA Blues at 7:30 p.m. at the newly-minted StubHub Center.


If the team’s seldom-used backups have been waiting for their chances, now is the time to make an impression on head coach Bruce Arena and his coaching staff. Their efforts could be even more crucial, given that the team has been struggling of late and is coming off back-to-back losses in which they were outscored 8-1.

“I look at these games as opportunities to show what you can do because you don’t get that many opportunities to play in games,” Rugg said. “I want him (Arena) to be confident in me. I know my spot on the depth chart right now. But I want him to be confident enough to put me in when someone’s injured, away with the national team or whatnot.

“Hopefully I can stay in a good position for that and work my way up from there.”

Saturday could be a pivotal moment for Rafael Garcia, a second-round pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. With Marcelo Sarvas unable to play in Wednesday’s regular season game against the Portland Timbers while serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation, Garcia would appear to be the logical choice to partner with Juninho in central midfield.

VOTE: Who should replace Sarvas in midfield?

Garcia, who played in one game last season and five this year – including a career-high 80 minutes in place of an injured Juninho on May 19 against the Red Bulls – admitted Saturday could be an important game for him individually.

But he also cautioned he won’t be caught wondering if he will be in the mix Wednesday.


“I try to take every game to improve and get better,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity for myself to show well and hopefully get some minutes on Wednesday. But I’m not looking past tomorrow. Saturday is the most important game for me. “

Another young player who figures to get his share of minutes against the Blues is Bryan Gaul, a first round pick in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. He played in 19 games in all competitions as a rookie last season, making 11 starts, but has yet to see any action with the first team in 2013.

Gaul said he’s particularly looking forward to Saturday’s match, which will be played in the stadium.

“That makes it even nicer,” he said. “You can get a real game-like atmosphere.”

Even with a year under his belt, trying to stay patient hasn’t gotten any easier, he admitted.

“I think it’s all mental,” he said. “You play a lot your first year, then your second year it doesn’t go like that after an (ankle and knee) injury. You have to work your way back, stay focused and come to training every day.

“You have to do your best to stay in it.”