CARSON, Calif. – Bruce Arena told Bryan Gaul he needed to be more aggressive going forward, and the second-year defender took it to heart.
Gaul scored two splendid goals and put in 90 minutes of work at left back, the only LA player to go the distance, in a 6-2 romp over Mexican champions Club Tijuana at the Home Depot Center on a cold, rainy Tuesday night.
The first goal (above), following a 65th-minute corner kick, gave the Galaxy a 3-0 edge. The ball was cleared and Michael Stephens headed it back into the box for Gaul, who took it on his chest, turned and volleyed it past goalkeeper Miguel Garcia. Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk called it a “world-class finish, something you expect to see Robbie Keane do.”
The second, in stoppage time, matched the effort on the first but required a little fortune. Gaul dispossessed a defender near the midfield stripe, surged forward on the left flank, cut into the box and cheekily chipped the ball low but over a sprawling Garcia in the goalmouth. The ball bounced softly twice, caressed the right post and bounced across the line. It wasn't quite what he'd planned.
“I meant to chip it, no doubt, but I meant to chip it a little higher than that,” Gaul said. “I under-hit it, but it still worked out.”
Gaul, a converted forward, played 19 first-team competitive matches and made seven MLS starts as a rookie, and he's likely to be asked for more this year from Arena instead of simply serving as the backup to left back incumbent Todd Dunivant.
“Arena was telling me before the game about going forward a lot more and being aggressive – not only going forward, [but also] when you get the ball, try to do something dangerous,” Gaul said. “Try to take someone on and serve it.”
Gaul's probing runs caused havoc for Tijuana, which used only one first-team regular (forward Alfredo Moreno, coming back from injury) and struggled to stay with LA until Rafael Garcia's red card at the start of the second half.
“Those are tough shoes to fill, Todd Dunivant's, and getting forward, that's one of his good qualities, and he showed a lot of that,” Perk said of Gaul. “If he can do really well defensively, he's going to be a good player.”