CARSON, Calif. – With the LA Galaxy having swapped goalkeepers from Josh Saunders to Donovan Ricketts on several occasions, the team is hardly affected by a switch between the two.
Monday, though, LA will have a wrinkle in the goalkeepers’ musical chairs. Second-year man Brian Perk will likely make his Major League Soccer debut when the Galaxy host the Seattle Sounders (10:30 pm ET, ESPN2).
Saunders is suspended and Ricketts is out with a broken forearm, leaving Perk the only ‘keeper on the roster to hold down the fort.
How will that affect the club? It depends who you ask.
“It’s really no different. It’s a little different when [Mike] Magee is playing,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said. “With Perk it shouldn’t be any different.”
Magee was forced into a difficult situation a week ago in San Jose when Ricketts was injured and replacement Saunders was sent off.
Players had to adjust to Magee then, and they said they will have to adjust to Perk now.
“We’re comfortable with him, but it does change a little bit,” Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter said. “He’s inexperienced and we have to know that. You manage the game a little bit differently.”
While teammates have seen plenty of Perk this year in particular – he’s played in three Reserve Division matches and a US Open Cup match – Ricketts and Saunders have something he does not: experience.
However, the team’s backline can help offset that.
“It’s up to us as a defense, as a team, to be on high alert and to be extremely concentrated and help him,” Berhalter said. “We know he’s capable but he needs help like everyone else.”
Still, Arena said the game plan won’t change just because a 21-year-old will make his MLS debut on the night.
“We have to play as a team and defend well,” Arena said, “but we’re not going to change anything we do because Perk’s in the goal. If Magee was in the goal, we might play a little bit more conservatively.”
In Perk, the Galaxy have a player who was a standout at UCLA, played at different levels within the US youth national team system and was drafted by the Philadelphia Union in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
Perk may not have the size of the first two ‘keepers in the depth chart – both Ricketts and Saunders are listed at more than six feet – but has qualities of his own.
“He’s extremely quick. He’s quick off the line. He’s great with the reflex saves. That’s something that you can’t teach. From that side, he’s exceptional,” Berhalter said. “He has that quickness, that close-down type of pace coming out. On loose balls, he’s very quick getting to the ball and that helps the defense. He’ll do a good job.”