CARSON, Calif. – Jaime Penedo is healthy again, his visa issues are cleared up and he's ready to step between the pipes again going forward for the LA Galaxy, starting with Saturday night's Western Conference clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps (10:30 pm ET; MLS Live, TSN in Canada).
“The one thing that Bruce was talking about this year is getting more and more competition throughout the field,” said Matt Reis, LA's new goalkeeper coach, “and I think we have that in Jaime and Brian and Brian. It's going to be a competition, and we'll see what happens.”
Penedo stepped from the CONCACAF Gold Cup title game with Panama into a Galaxy contract and right onto the field last summer, and his athleticism and superb reaction speed made for several spectacular appearances down the stretch last season. He was outstanding again in the opener of the Galaxy’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals series against Club Tijuana, but a visa issue and minor knee injury has kept him out of action since.
Injuries dropped Perk to No. 3 on the depth chart last year, but he's the only 'keeper who's been in the Galaxy's 18 every game. He's gotten the call the past two games, on March 22 at Real Salt Lake, while Penedo was in Panama, and in last weekend's SuperClasico romp over Chivas USA. He's been excellent in training, Reis said.
“I think Brian Perk has been playing great,” said Reis, the longtime New England Revolution goalkeeper. “His all-around game is solid, and I think that's what's causing everybody to raise the level of their games, and that's what we're looking for.”
Perk's aim is to be in the nets every game.
“That's definitely been my goal all along,” he said. “That's Bruce's decision. All I can do is play my best and make it hard for him not to play me.”
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Penedo's a superb shot stopper, but his technique is not as advanced, Reis said, as UCLA products Perk and Rowe.
“With Jaime, [we work on] a lot of little technical things because he hasn't had a lot of work with his technique throughout his career,” Reis said. “… I think Jaime has great reactions, he's got a great feel for the game, and he makes big saves. So if we can get his little technical stuff a little better, it will only help him in the long run.”
The goal is to guide him to “little things that he can do a little bit better to get the balls that he hasn't.”
Penedo says he's focusing on his posture, on “how to move under the goal, with my shoulders and legs lined up, to have a stronger position.”
Reis is providing the most technical training Penedo, 32, has had during a career largely spent in Central America.
“The type of work is different,” Penedo said. “In Central America, you work under the Latin American school. You do exercises in the sand to gain strength in your legs and develop your reactions. You work a lot on jumping, and they make the goalkeeper jump very high to the different corners.
“Here with Matt, you look for the perfection technically. I don't need to jump when I can just walk [to make the save, and that comes with] good posture. That's what he's looking for.”