With early season injuries to regular Los Dos starters like Josh Turnley, Tyler Turner, Miguel Aguilar and Adonis Amaya, LA Galaxy II Head Coach Mike Muñoz has turned to what he knows best: the club’s youth.
Since the season’s opening, five LA Galaxy Academy players have made their debuts for LA Galaxy II. Muñoz has trotted out two of the youngest lineups in the club’s short history, with little hesitation about putting 16-year-olds on the same pitch as 30-year-old league veterans.
Specifically, the injuries to Turnley and Turner have provided Galaxy Academy defenders Alex Juarez and Ian Lonergan with the most opportunities to put their talent on display for Los Dos. Each have made four starts on the season, despite making positional adjustments for their USL call-ups. Juarez, a natural central midfielder, has been converted as a right back for the USL side while Lonergan is a natural center back who has found work as a left back.
“They’ve given everything that’s been asked of them,” Muñoz said. “It’s not easy for those guys to step into that position, but overall I’m very pleased with how they’ve done. They’ve given everything for the team.”
Lonergan was the first Academy player to make his debut this season, when he started in the team’s season opening 2-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on March 25. It was the team’s only shutout of the season.
“Ian’s a competitor, he’s a warrior,” Muñoz said. “He’s been in our Academy for maybe six or seven years and he just bleeds Galaxy through and through. He’s a guy I know I can count on because you just know what he’s going to bring every single day.”
Getting use to the defensive role, Juarez has perhaps had the bigger of the adjustment, being forced to quickly hone his defensive tactics in the early going.
“He’s one of the cleanest passers and technical players on the ball. He does a very good job of reading the game,” said Muñoz. “It’s been a little difficult for him at this level since he’s not a natural defender, but he’s another kid with a bright future.”
Lonergan and Juarez were part of the team’s second youngest lineup of the season: one that average an age of 19.4 in their midweek match against Real Monarchs SLC on May 10. Just two weeks prior, Muñoz put out a starting 11 that averaged 19, the youngest in club history.
Muñoz expects Turnley and Turner to return soon, but Los Dos fans shouldn’t expect Galaxy Academy appearances to dwindle much. In addition to Juarez and Lonergan, Galaxy Academy debuts for Los Dos have also been given to Jake Arteaga, Zico Bailey, Jorge Hernandez
LA Galaxy II returns to action at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 14 against New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. The match will be streamed live on LAGalaxy.com/2.