CARSON, Calif. – To shut down MLS leading goal scorer Marco Di Vaio, the LA Galaxy needed to be constantly cognizant of the forward’s drifting runs behind the defense and with a little help from goalkeeper Brian Rowe that mission was accomplished.
The Montreal Impact tested LA early on as they found space behind a high line created by the Galaxy back four, but the home side adjusted quickly with some aid from the backup ‘keeper. Montreal was caught offside a whopping eight times in their 1-0 defeat to the Galaxy, but when LA wasn't able to keep their attack under wraps, Rowe came and bailed out the defense.
When Di Vaio, strike partner Andrew Wenger or any other Impact attacker drifted behind the defense, Rowe marched off his line to clear out the danger.
“We knew coming in, that [Di Vaio] probably leads the league in offside [calls], so we knew he sort of wanted to sneak in and try to find those through balls,” said Rowe, who made two recoveries and two clearances to go with a pair of saves on Wednesday in his fourth MLS start. “The back line did a great job staying together and holding their line, dropping when they need too, and I was able to stay off my line a little bit to sniff those out.”
Goal scorer Kofi Opare offered Rowe a “ten out of ten” for his performance, but he wasn’t the only one who was pleased with the backup ‘keeper.
“He needs to be active and get off his line. I think with [Marco] Di Vaio on the field, he’s always going to be a player pursuing opportunities in the penalty area,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “If you don’t come off your line, he’s going to knick one. I thought Brian Rowe’s aggressiveness was a big part of our success today.”
With starter Jaime Penedo bound to return to the starting XI for Sunday's San Jose Earthquakes after returning from international duty on Thursday, Rowe will once again return to the bench until LA's CONCACAF Champions League finale against Isidro Metapan on Oct. 24. After racking up the second shutout of his young career, Rowe couldn't help but reflect on a season that has seen him develop from a third string ‘keeper at the start of the season to a confident starter.
“It's been very cool. It’s been unexpected if I wanted to look back [at the start of the year] at what I thought my role would be on the team,” said Rowe. “I've taken it in stride and I’m so excited that I can’t say.”