KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Given the conditions, the Gyasi Zardes right back experiment was a relative success for LA Galaxy head coach Sigi Schmid.
Zardes made his first-ever appearance at outside back in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Sporting Kansas City, going 90 minutes in the loss. The 26-year-old forward turned outside back made the appearance with only limited practice time over the last few weeks.
With the Galaxy conceding an astounding eight goals in their last two matches, Schmid felt the time was now to give Zardes a run out in defense.
“We needed a right back. We had nobody and I think Gyasi’s strength is wide whether it’s wide midfield or in the back,” Schmid explained. “Gyasi for his first game at right back had an excellent game. There are obviously things he can pick up on, but overall, he handled a difficult situation very well.”
Zardes’ showing was an up-and-down affair as it was clear that he was still adapting to his new defensive responsibilities. His natural speed and impressive work rate seemed well-suited to the position, however, as was repeatedly able to help the Galaxy spark attacks while also chase down Sporting’s speedy attackers.
The appearance was not without its foibles, however, as Sporting targeted the Galaxy right side early and often, ultimately scoring the game-winner with a well-timed run down the flank. Statistics-wise, Zardes showed his versatility, co-leading the team in tackles with three on the evening, while completing 90 percent of his passes.
“For a first game, I think it was good. The first half was difficult for us because the team played with three players on the right side to focus us to defend. The second half was better for him. We’ll see if he keeps Gyasi at this post.”
Defender Dave Romney was quick to agree that Zardes adapted well to the position, “It’s tough and you’ve got to get used to the position especially if you’re on a team where the outside backs move up a lot and you have to have a lot of communication. [He was] in unfamiliar territory, I thought he did a good job.”
Schmid remains uncertain whether Zardes will remain at the position for this Wednesday’s match against the Houston Dynamo, but if he is called upon again, the Galaxy’s boss is confident in the Hawthorne native.
“If that’s where he ends up playing, he’s got to play more games there. It’ll come,” Schmid said. “But he’s an intelligent guy, he’s got the engine to play there. Today, he was helping me out as much as anything else.”