INDIANAPOLIS – The player many considered to be the best college prospect in the country wasn’t part of the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. But newly signed LA Galaxy Homegrown forward Gyasi Zardes has no doubts about where he would’ve been picked on Thursday.
“In my eyes, I think I would’ve gone No. 1,” the Galaxy Academy alum told reporters.
Zardes has been one of the top goalscorers in the college game recently, scoring 33 goals in 37 games for CSU Bakersfield over the last two seasons. The Galaxy made him the fourth Homegrown player on their roster when they inked the Hawthorne, Calif., native last month.
And the 21-year-old says his decision to sign a Homegrown contract in lieu of entering the SuperDraft gives him a leg up on his peers.
“It was a great decision to sign a Homegrown because I knew which club I was going to play for and prepare for,” he said, “as opposed to these guys [in the draft] – they’re waiting and waiting. It just helped me prepare sooner than these guys.”
Zardes has previously trained with the Galaxy first team and added that “my skill is going to blow your mind.” A supremely gifted attacker, he says he wants to bring "flair and style" to his game. And he’s got lofty goals.
“I want to be like [Lionel] Messi and score a goal every game,” he smiled. “Everybody wants that. But I’m just going to try to prove myself and be the best I can be.”
Zardes admitted he has yet to have a conversation with Bruce Arena and his staff as to what exactly his role will be in a busy 2013 that will see the Galaxy compete in the CONCACAF Champions League and defend their two straight MLS Cup crowns. But he’ll take whatever minutes he’s given.
Arena, for his part, says he envisions a role for the talented young forward.
"We sense that he's going to be able to help us a little bit this year," the Galaxy head coach and GM told reporters here on Thursday. "He's a very bright, articulate, confident kid and hopefully that translates a little bit on the field, where it counts."