WASHINGTON – Jose Villarreal has been the breakout star for the LA Galaxy this season with his impressive performances along the left side of midfield.
But in the Galaxy’s 1-0 defeat to D.C. United, Villarreal showed that his best position still might be up top.
With normal strikers Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes away on international duty, Villarreal lined up as a striker alongside Alan Gordon. The tandem caused trouble for the United back line as Villarreal’s quickness and technical ability paired well with Gordon’s physical presence.
Neither was able to find the back of the net, but Gordon and Villarreal repeatedly tested United goalkeeper Bill Hamid, accounting for two of the five saves that the ‘keeper made on the evening.
“It’s an easy partnership. He’s easy to play with. I like playing with bigger guys up top because they hold up the ball and link well. Gordon was great up there,” Villarreal said. “We were just unlucky. We deserved more and put ourselves in a situation where we conceded a late goal. We worked so hard during the week, and to concede a late goal like that is frustrating.”
Alongside the burly target man, Villarreal showed flashes of the dangerous striker who burst onto the scene just a few seasons ago as he found space behind defenders thanks to quick combination play with Gordon.
Although the result may not have been there for the Galaxy, the continued maturation by Villarreal at the forward position—and out wide—is a major boost for a team that is still finding itself four games into the 2015 campaign.
“He looks really good. I was just trying to go up there and be strong, battle for him, and get him the ball,” said Gordon. “He’s playing well and if he keeps playing like this then he’s going to have a good season.”
When the Galaxy take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC this Saturday, Villarreal will likely be returned to his now familiar spot along the left side of midfield, but after the frustrating result in Washington, he’s eager to put forth another strong showing.
“For me personally, and I’m sure that I’m talking for a lot of the other guys, we’re pretty upset that we didn’t get the win here,” said Villarreal. “We’re going to go into Vancouver thinking that we have to win no matter what. If it’s ugly or pretty, we have to get the three points.”