CARSON, Calif. — Professional sports can be cruel and unfair at times. Just ask the LA Galaxy’s Nick DePuy.
All the 25-year-old native of Corona wanted when he signed a first-team contract with the five-time MLS Cup champions in early February was a chance to play, and he’s gotten that, thanks to a nagging groin injury that has sidelined central defender Dan Steres. DePuy has started in his place and responded with two noteworthy performances in the first two games of the regular season.
But as much as he’s enjoyed contributing, he has little to show for his efforts, thanks to a 1-1 tie in the opener last weekend in Houston and Saturday night’s disappointing 1-0 loss to the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps in front of a sold-out crowd of 26,382 at Dignity Health Sports Park.
“The atmosphere was electric, something you dream of,” he said. “It’s definitely something I’ll remember. I just wish we could have ended up with a win.”
He also likely wishes he could have one play back, one that unfortunately decided the outcome. The Whitecaps were mounting one of their few forays in the Galaxy penalty area when DePuy attempted to knock the ball away from the Whitecaps’ Ali Adnan with a sliding tackle. Adnan, however, managed to avoid DePuy and sent the ball back to Tosaint Ricketts, who calmly beat diving Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham from less than 10 yards for the decisive score.
“The ball was played behind,” DePuy said of the play. “We had a lot of guys back defending. I left my feet, which probably wasn’t the right decision. However, he (Adnan) was in front of me, so I was trying to kick the ball away and out of bounds over the end line. It was frustrating … they had one, maybe two chances the whole game and scored.
“That’s the game of soccer. You can’t win every game. It’s disappointing because it’s our first home game and we wanted to come out with a win, a big crowd. However, we’re professional, we’re going to move forward, and we’re going to build on things that we can work on.”
DePuy said he can feel his comfort level and confidence growing with every game and training session. He just wished the end results were more positive. He’s also learned something he said will prove invaluable as his young career continues.
“You’ve got to stay focused for 90 minutes,” he said. “You can’t ever take a minute off. It’s a high level obviously, but I feel comfortable back there playing with the guys. Every game is going to have different situations, and I’m just trying to learn from them and move forward.
“I’m happy,” he went on, “but I’m not playing for myself. I’m playing because I want to win. I’m not doing that, and it’s frustrating and disappointing. I’ll be much happier when we win.”