The LA Galaxy announced on Thursday that the club has signed 21-year-old forward Gyasi Zardes as a Homegrown player.
A native of Hawthorne, Calif., Zardes scored 38 goals during a three-year college career at CSU Bakersfield, finishing as one of the top goalscorers in the NCAA in each of the last two years when he tallied 33 goals in 37 games. Prior to attending college, Zardes represented the Galaxy at the Under-18 and Under-20 level, helping the U-20s reach the USL Super-20 Final in 2010 and finishing as their top scorer that year.
Zardes becomes the second Homegrown player signed by the Galaxy since the end of the 2012 season, along with defender Oscar Sorto, who was signed by the club earlier this month. Those two will join fellow Homegrown players Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal on the Galaxy roster in 2013. Tristan Bowen, who became the Galaxy’s first-ever Homegrown player in 2008, spent two seasons with the club before being traded to Chivas USA ahead of the start of the 2011 MLS campaign.
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“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to join the LA Galaxy," Zardes said in a statement. "The chance to play in front of family and friends and alongside the likes of Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan truly is a dream come true. I would like to sincerely thank the Galaxy, MLS, Cal State University Bakersfield and Wasserman for their support and belief in me. I would also like to thank God without whom I would certainly not be where I am today. I am looking forward to working hard and helping the Galaxy defend their MLS Cup title next season”.
A star at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif., Zardes sat out the 2009 season at CSU Bakersfield as a redshirt before debuting for the Roadrunners in 2010. After tallying five goals and a team-best seven assists in his first season of college soccer, Zardes burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2011, scoring 18 times in 20 games while helping lead Bakersfield to a berth in the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time in school history. His 18 goals that season were the fourth most in Division I college soccer that year and he was selected the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top player in college soccer.
In 2012, Zardes followed up his breakout season by scoring 15 goals and adding nine assists, each of which were team highs, in 17 games, while helping the Roadrunners record a winning record for the fourth consecutive season. He had two or more goals in four of his 17 games, including seven goals in a two-game stretch in mid-October.
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“Gyasi has been one of the most exciting prospects in our Academy for a number of years and was one of the best players in college soccer over the past few years so we are excited to finally be able to sign him as a Homegrown Player,” Galaxy vice president Chris Klein said. “He has grown and improved immeasurably as a result of his experiences with our Academy and at Bakersfield and we look forward to having him make his Galaxy debut in 2013.”
Prior to heading to Bakersfield, Zardes played for the Galaxy Academy U-18s during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Development Academy seasons, as well as with the Galaxy U-20s in the 2009 and 2010 USL Super-20 campaigns.