CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo earned his first career MLS start in Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Real Salt Lake and showcased why he is a contender for the Galaxy’s starting position between the pipes.
Penedo was given the nod over Carlo Cudicini, who Bruce Arena elected to leave off the Galaxy’s game day roster. The 31-year-old was tested sparingly against RSL as he made one save while facing three shots on goal.
Where Penedo was most effective was his ability to control the penalty area and marshal his defense to limit RSL’s attacking chances. No moment showcased Penedo’s willingness to challenge the Salt Lake attackers more than in the 29th minute when he raced off his line to beat Javier Morales to a well weighted through ball from Kyle Beckerman, beating the Argentine attacker to the pass and clearing it out for a corner.
Despite allowing two goals, Penedo was pleased with his showing against RSL.
“It’s always great to get three points like we did tonight, now we just have to go back to the training field and fix a couple of mistakes,” said Penedo, who signed with LA earlier this month. “Everything was normal; I prepare the same way I always prepare. I prepare myself physically, mentally. This is a big challenge for me so I wanted to do well.”
The reason that Penedo faced so few quality chances was due to the play of the Galaxy defense that has routinely limited opposition chances throughout the year. Stopping the RSL attack wasn’t the only concern as the defense had to deal with Penedo’s inability to speak English.
However, the Galaxy believe that they passed each test with flying colors.
“It was great. I think that he did well. He came out and controlled his box, he was a calming presence back there,” said defender Todd Dunivant.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena admitted that he was impressed with the Panamanian’s performance despite the fact that he faced limited action.
“My reason for starting Jaime was that I thought it was the best decision to make today and we wanted to see him with our team,” said the Galaxy boss.
Arena will have another decision to make on Tuesday when the Galaxy face Costa Rican side Cartaginés in their CONCACAF Champions League Group 8 opener. With Penedo having started on Saturday, Cudicini and Rowe appear to be the favorites to suit up for the Galaxy against the Costa Ricans.
However, if Penedo is asked to play on Tuesday against his fellow Central Americans, the Panamanian will be ready.
“I know that I’m coming to a team that’s already halfway through the season with a roster that’s full. I’m just coming here to be ready when called upon when needed,” he said.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com