Ignacio Maganto impresses in first MLS start

CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy newcomer Ignacio Maganto lacks neither confidence nor energy, two traits he proudly put on display in Saturday’s hard-earned 1-1 tie with the Colorado Rapids in front of a crowd of 16,676 at StubHub Center.

The 23-year-old native of Madrid, Spain, taken with the 21st and final selection in the first round of this year’s MLS SuperDraft, made his first-ever appearance and start with the first team and left a favorable impression, to say the least.

“He played very well,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said of the 5-foot-8, 140-pound midfielder who had been playing for the club’s USL Pro side, Galaxy II, prior to Saturday. “I thought he played with a lot of confidence. He was aggressive on the ball and he was somebody they had to focus on.

“He did a good job. He wasn’t conservative.”

Maganto, who said Arena informed him of his starting role a couple of days ago, said he never felt nervous on the field Saturday.

“No. It’s a game,” he said with a grin. “I’ve played a lot of games in my life. I was confident and my teammates gave me confidence. I was confident with myself.

“I thought I could do well. I wasn’t too nervous.”

He had one decent scoring chance – his volley on a cross from Robbie Rogers in the 23rd minute unfortunately went well over the net – and more than held his own with his aggression and physical play.

“He was all over the place,” teammate Gyasi Zardes said. “Yeah, very energetic. First time starting, was it?”

Zardes, told it was Maganto’s debut with the first team, appeared to be even more impressed with the rookie.

“First time playing as well … I thought he did phenomenal,” Zardes continued. “He wasn’t scared to take on a defender. I thought that was wonderful.

“It just shows you what kind of player Ignacio is.”

Maganto may not be a stranger to the starting lineup in the near future.

Robbie Keane missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained groin and midfielder Mika Vayrynen returned to action Saturday after seeing only part-time duty in the past two games and went 58 minutes. There also is a heavy, upcoming schedule which features three games in seven days, including Saturday’s game and visits to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday and FC Dallas next Saturday, and Arena figures to do more lineup shuffling because of the workload.

Maganto vowed he’ll be prepared if called upon again.

“I was ready,” he said of his solid, understated performance Saturday.

“I’ve been working hard all this month.

“I got my chance, and hopefully I get more playing time in the following game.”