Heading into Sunday’s match against the Houston Dynamo, the LA Galaxy faced a bit of a quandary.
The result meant little to the club, as the Supporters’ Shield title had been wrapped up several weeks ago. Also, the Galaxy had played a grueling match in Honduras on Thursday, and with the playoffs underway soon after the match, their game against the Dynamo seemed to take a backseat.
Still, while LA trotted out a different-looking lineup and left Texas with a 3-1 defeat, the coaches had the right to do with the match as they pleased.
“You never want to go into games and come out on the short end, but it is what it is and I think we earned the opportunity through our previous 33 games to give our first team guys a rest,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena told reporters after the match. “As much as I’m disappointed with the final result, I’m pleased we got something out of it and hopefully it helps us down the road.”
Perhaps the only bright spot of the match for the Galaxy involved a 16-year-old striker. Jack McBean, who hails from nearby Newport Beach, Calif., scored his first goal of the season as he made his MLS debut.
McBean (above) went the distance in the match and scored in the dying minutes. He played in a friendly earlier this season, getting some time in during a 1-1 draw with Manchester City in July, but playing 90 minutes with the first team Sunday was memorable as well.
“It was a really good experience,” McBean told reporters. “Obviously, it’s a lot different than what I am used to. The atmosphere, the players, everything is a lot more intense. It’s a lot more physical. It’s going to take me a while to get used to, but to get out there was a lot of fun.
McBean may have been the youngest player on the field for LA, but he was not the only youngster to get some valuable minutes. Hector Jimenez and Dan Keat earned their first starts of their respective careers, while Ryan Thomas came off the bench for his own debut. Dasan Robinson also made his Galaxy debut, starting at center back alongside Gregg Berhalter.
Additionally, Sean Franklin played for the first time since Sept. 9, and his potential return could boost the club ahead of the playoffs, which will begin for the Galaxy with a road trip to either New York, Columbus or Colorado on Oct. 29 or 30.
“Tonight was a good experience for some of our young players," Arena said. "It was good to get Sean Franklin back on the field. It was very nice for our 16-year-old to score a goal."
While the lineup was relatively young, it did feature regulars such as A.J. DeLaGarza (30 games played) and Chris Birchall (23), as well as Donovan Ricketts, who is working his way back from injury.
And even though there was youth and inexperience sprinkled on the field, the players set out to nab the Galaxy three points. That it didn't happen didn't dampen the youngsters’ spirits too much.
“We still want to go out there and compete and win, but unfortunately we could not do that,” McBean said. “I think it was a good experience for myself, and some of the other rookies and guys who have not played as much.”