Two steps forward and one step back for LA Galaxy forward Jack McBean in season disrupted by injury
The LA Galaxy forward, who last week turned 19, hopes in the new year he can pick up where he left off last April, and he's working during the offseason to ensure he can do so.
McBean spent two weeks in England last month, training with Wolverhampton and Blackburn, and with Jose Villarreal's apparent loan to Cruz Azul likely to keep him away until at least May, he'll be atop the pecking order among LA's talented young forwards.
“I'd like to start as I did [this] year and just be consistent,” said McBean, who started 10 of his 21 competitive first-team appearances, with two goals and two assists. “Score goals, hold the ball up. Just do my job, basically.”
McBean is a classic target striker, and he impressed when partnered with Robbie Keane, Mike Magee or Villarreal during the first two months of the 2013 campaign, seeing action in 10 of the first 11 first-team matches, scoring a big goal off the bench in a 1-1 Super Clasico draw with Chivas USA, and making five straight MLS starts.
He was giving the best performance of his professional career in the last of these, on April 27 at RSL, showing a subtlety previously absent from his game and teaming terrifically with Hector Jimenez to set up Charlie Rugg's 13th-minute goal in a 2-0 victory.
Then, not quite six minutes into the second half, McBean dummied a ball for Magee, and Borchers clattered into him, fracturing his left collarbone. He was out until mid-June, didn't appear in another MLS game until the end of that month, didn't start again until the Aug. 1 friendly against Real Madrid, and saw inconsistent time down the stretch.
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“I thought I started off well, got some opportunities with some guys injured and some guys on international duty, and I thought I stepped up and was playing well,” McBean said. “Then, unfortunately, I got injured and didn't really gt back to the form that I was in. ... When I was playing well, I thought I was playing simple, getting myself in front of the goal and holding the ball up, just creating havoc and making it hard for them to play against us.”
The injury “set him back, no question,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said. “That was unfortunate, because Jack was making good progress, and after the injury, he never quite got back. Now we need more consistency and, obviously, a healthy campaign to allow [him] to get consistent minutes and so on.”
Head coach Bruce Arena, speaking generally of McBean and fellow youngsters Villarreal, Chandler Hoffman and Rugg, said his reserve forwards “got a little bit better, but they're still young. They have to start stepping up and being men each and every day in training, and when their opportunities come, they've got to grab them.”
That's McBean's thinking. 2013 was “a good year, I think, a good learning experience, and I'll be better from it,” he says, and he plans to take to heart the lessons imparted.
“I think there's a lot [of lessons],” he said. “I think the main one would be when you're playing well and scoring goals to not let yourself get too high and when you're nor playing well, don't get too low.”
And don't get hurt, right?
“Yeah,” he replied. “Eyes in the back of your head.”