CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy have been demanding more and more of second-year forward Gyasi Zardes and on Wednesday, the young striker delivered.
The 22-year-old scored the game-winning goal and also added an assist on Robbie Keane’s opener to help the Galaxy earn a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas and propel the club out of last place in the Western Conference.
“He did well today,” said Galaxy captain Robbie Keane of the dynamic Zardes. “I said that before the game that it’s important for him to have a big game today, and he certainly did. He was a threat.”
Keane’s words certainly rang true as Zardes was aggressive from the opening whistle in what was his first MLS start since the team’s season opener in March and getting a goal—let alone a game winner— was special for the forward.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster to step on the field and get a goal and also get an assist for Robbie,” said Zardes. “It feels wonderful. It helps a lot to start because you start and build as the game goes on.”
In the 24th minute, Zardes got on the board for the first time as he feathered a pass onto the foot of Keane, who sliced through the Dallas defense, before unleashing a devastating strike that put LA ahead.
Just 20 minutes later, Zardes was in the mix again as a perfectly weighted cross from Juninho was floated in the forward’s direction. With considerable space being given by the Dallas defenders, Zardes headed the ball past goalkeeper Raul Fernandez for LA’s final tally.
With the Galaxy’s lead cut to one after Tesho Akindele scored in the 65th minute, Arena deployed Zardes closer to goal in the 71st when Raul Mendiola checked into the match for forward Samuel. This formation change forced Dallas to drop numbers back to account for Zardes’ speed which provided LA with the breathing room that they needed to seal their first victory in four matches.
“He just needed to mix the game up, which he did tonight—sometimes go at people, opportunity for one versus one, take people on when we had the opportunity to send to ball forward like the goal for example,” said Keane. “He mixed his game up well tonight and he got the reward for that. That’s why he is one of our best performers tonight.”
But will Zardes’ stellar showing against Dallas be a sign of things to come? The forward certainly hopes so.
“The past is the past, for a reason you learn from it and you go forward and move on from the things you’ve done wrong in the past,” said Zardes. “I definitely think we’ve learned how to finish our chances and opportunities and just to be an initial threat and get numbers out in the attack.”
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com