When LA picked up two target forwards in the 2014 offseason, I assumed they were hedging their bets. I could almost picture Bruce Arena saying, maybe out loud, “Well, we got two of ’em. Surely one will work out.” Without naming names, we’ve all seen what happens when the new signing doesn’t work out. Best to have backup.
Rob Friend and Samuel. Yesterday was the first outing for these guys, a closed-door scrimmage against Chivas USA. And if there’s anything I know about sports, it’s this: There’s nothing more dangerous, nothing quite as misleading, nothing so trite as drawing sweeping conclusions from a preseason friendly.
So let’s get to it.
— Elmur Souza (@elmursouza) February 5, 2014
But Samuel was no slouch either, pressuring the Chivas’ defense and getting a good look on goal:
Nearly a second goal as Samuel forces a save from the Chivas USA goalkeeper. He's been very dangerous so far today.
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) February 5, 2014
And most intriguingly, the two new signings apparently worked well as a pair. In reply to a question about Samuel’s performance:
@Saldrete85 Very solid. Nearly scored a goal in the first half. Paired well with Friend.
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) February 6, 2014
Friend is already putting up results for LA, and Bruce Arena described Samuel as “raw talent.” It’s early, but so far neither of the new target forwards is a dud. And that’s an exciting thing. Last season the Galaxy were thin on strikers who could not only compete, but show flashes of brilliance at an MLS level. We had Keane. And sometimes we had Donovan.
LA went into the offseason in need of a target forward. Now we’re looking at the possibility LA found two — we’re looking at the possibility of competition for the starting spot.
Bruce’s bet may have paid off.