We weren’t two minutes past kick-off when Robbie Keane let fly a lofty shot from 35 yards out. He caught the LA Galaxy II’s keeper out of position and made him pay. The goal was gorgeous and the message was clear: the captain is back.
It’s not all good news. Keane put in 70 minutes, but they weren’t consistent: he was sluggish by the end of the first half and did much less running once he’d put the team a couple goals ahead. Still, the pessimists can give it a rest. Robbie hasn’t lost his touch, and after his showing tonight I wouldn’t be surprised if he started against Salt Lake.
“The first goal was unbelievable. I don’t know how he quite saw that, it was ridiculous. That’s why we’re paying him the big bucks.”
Now let’s talk midfield.
Zardes is the latest contestant in the round of musical chairs at right wing. He started and stayed for 60 minutes, thwarting my own attempts to pin down the starters in midfield. Tonight wasn’t Gyasi’s most impressive showing — bad touches put a quick end to his more creative plays — but in light of his past couple games, it’s hard to think of the starting nod as anything but well-deserved. Ishizaki swapped in at the 60 minute mark but never quite found the game, looking unfortunately ineffective and oddly out of place.
The untold story of the night was Baggio Husidic, who subbed in the 70th minute. He brought much-needed energy to the first team’s attack and had a couple looks on goal — if Baggio would just get his body over the ball he could’ve score tonight. To me Husidic feels like a guy on the outside looking in, but it’s good to know there’s at least one reliable substitute for either Juninho or Sarvas.
One last note for the first team: Riley continues to look good, and continues to look like a starter at left back. He went out of his way to creep up into the attack tonight. He hugged the sideline and looked like more of a traditional winger than Donovan did. And he was good at it. Riley doesn’t have a permanent nameplate in the locker room yet, but he does have a cardboard one — same as the rest of the preseason signings. Read into that as you will.
The defensive line as a whole looked less shaky. But I expect RSL to push them much harder.
“We have two weeks left, which is enough time for us to look at what happens in these types of practice games and see what we can fix.”
As for the LA Galaxy II — or “Los Dos,” if you’re buying into the nickname (I am) — the second team had several standouts tonight. LA’s two homegrown signings, Raul Mendiola and Bradford Jamieson IV, made quite a pair. Thirty minutes into the game they nearly turned a bad pass from Keane into a goal. And they would have, had Omar not slid in to save the day. These two are the shining examples of what LA II can be — they’re talented rookies who need playtime more than anything, and the USL PRO team is going to give them just that.
“[Raul] created chances and he is a guy that wants the ball in difficult spots. I was pleased with his performance. I’ve watched him develop over the last year and half and he has grown tremendously and it’s only going to get better.”
—Curt Onalfo, Head Coach, LA Galaxy II
Cody Laurendi, goalkeeper for the IIs, looked very good. Yes he let Keane catch him out of position only two minutes into the game. But to Cody’s credit he didn’t get rattled and didn’t make the same mistake again. Laurendi went mano-a-mano against both Keane and Zardes, stuffing shots from both the formidable strikers.
The young keeper’s performance wasn’t enough as LA Galaxy II fell to their older brethren, 3-0. It was a hard-fought game, a decent showing for the USL PRO side, and more importantly the players all left the field together.