CARSON, Calif. – Actions say more than words do, so if Bruce Arena isn't offering his thoughts on the LA Galaxy's goalkeeper situation, his decisions to give Jaime Penedo his first MLS start in the weekend's victory over Real Salt Lake – and leaving Carlo Cudicini off the 18-man roster – speaks volumes.
Penedo, signed nearly two weeks ago after helping Panama to the CONCACAF Gold Cup title game, might have supplanted the Galaxy's nominal No. 1 goalkeeper after a fine performance in Saturday's 4-2 triumph. He made one big save, came out nicely to shut down another RSL chance, did a fine job corralling his box, and was not at fault for either goal conceded.
Whether that means he'll be in the net for Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League opener against Costa Rican club Cartaginés or for next weekend's MLS clash at Vancouver isn't certain, and Arena isn't tipping his hand.
“My reason for starting Jaime was that I thought it was the best decision to make today, and we wanted to see him with our team ...,” Arena said in his postmatch news conference. “He put in a good game. Wasn't tested a whole lot but was solid.”
Arena last week said he was “for the most part” satisfied with Cudicini, who spent more than a decade in the English Premier League, but Penedo's acquisition was widely seen as a reaction to the a 39-year-old Italian's inconsistent performances and inability to keep crucial goals out of his net.
Penedo let in a pair, the first when Joao Plata squeezed through undeterred and the second off an end-of-game free kick that didn't hurt the way so many others have this year, but he also did well to keep Javier Morales from a chance after Kyle Beckerman picked off a pass outside LA's box in the 29th minute and when he knocked aside an Alvaro Saborio blast headed to the upper-right corner four minutes into the second half.
“[Penedo's debut] was great. He did well,” left back Todd Dunivant said. “He's a calming presence back there. I can't understand a word he's saying, but other than that, it's not bad.”
Penedo, who got 45 minutes in the International Champions Cup loss to AC Milan, learned Thursday he would be playing, and he said he prepared himself as he always does.
“There were nerves, of course there were nerves,” he said through a translator. “This is a big challenge for me, and I want to do well. [The save on Saborio helped me] a lot, because I didn't receive any shots in the first half. Saborio I know from World Cup qualifying, against Costa Rica, and I know he has a very dangerous right foot.”
Brian Rowe, who had started in place of Cudicini in LA's first two meetings this season with RSL, was Penedo's backup, and he could get the start against Cartagines. What does it all mean for Cudicini? We'll see.
“You know, it's never an easy decision for a coach to make those moves,” Landon Donovan said. “Carlo, he's a good person and a good pro, and he's been probably a little unlucky at times this year, and Bruce's decision was to make a change. We love Carlo; he's been very supportive. Obviously, he's disappointed, but you can't say enough about his professionalism and how much he helps the group even though he wasn't playing.”