LA Galaxy teen sensation striker Jack McBean getting closer to full form, could play this weekend
The teenage striker stepped quickly through space to get to the RSL box, eluded three defenders, then played the ball off to Hector Jimenez on the right flank. Charlie Rugg finished the ensuing cross, and the Galaxy had a two-goal lead after 13 minutes en route to its triumph.
McBean, 18, didn't make it through the clash — he suffered a broken clavicle in a collision with RSL defender Nat Borchers early in the second half and hasn't played in a first-team game since, but he's healthy again, has made the 18-man game-day roster in the past two games, and is looking forward to contributing once more.
It could happen in Saturday's California Clasico against the San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford University.
“He's ready to play,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said following Tuesday morning's training session at the StubHub Center. “We got to find the right time to play him. He's been gone for a couple months. A couple months is a lot, so it's going to take some time to get him back to form, and we've got to find ways to get him some games over the next month or so, which we will.”
McBean played in just four first-team competitive matches in his first two campaigns with LA, scoring four goals (plus another five in MLS Reserve League play last year), and he's become bigger, stronger and more reliable and has made it into seven league games this year. He was making his fifth successive MLS start at RSL.
“I knew I was playing well [in that game]. I was holding the ball up for the team and doing my job ...,” McBean said. “[The injury] was pretty odd. They turned the ball over, and Hector played me through, but I saw Mike [Magee] behind me so I just let it run through my legs.”
Borchers hit him just as the ball rolled past, and McBean could feel that his left collarbone was out of place. “Took the price for it, but that happens,” he said.
He underwent surgery, with 11 screws and a plate inserted, and worked on his strength and fitness until returning to full training nearly two weeks ago. He played the final 15 minutes in the Reserve League draw with the USL PRO's LA Blues on June 15.
“It was good to get back in a game setting in the stadium,” McBean said. “Definitely some of the quickness stuff and reaction stuff you'd expect to lose not playing for almost two months [was missing]. I was a little bit hesitant to go into big challenges. ... I can tell it's still a little bit off, just my feet. A little bit slow, but it's getting close.”
McBean, who was 16 when he signed a Homegrown contract, is one of four young forwards — along with Jose Villarreal, Gyasi Zardes, Rugg and Chandler Hoffman — competing for playing time next to captain Robbie Keane up top. All bring something different. McBean has the makings of a classic target forward.
“He's got the physical body type to handle being a target pretty well,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said. “His runs off the ball, his timing of when passes will be delivered are areas in need of improvement, and he's growing. His year under his belt has allowed him to process that better, and I think it's showing now.
"It's a combination of confidence and sharpening [things] in and around the box," Sarachan added. "If he can sort of sharpen up the little movements in terms of his timing and his touch, he's going to be more of a complete package.”