BAYAMÓN, Puerto Rico – The LA Galaxy's attack misfired in Wednesday night's CONCACAF Champions League clash with the Puerto Rico Islanders, but No. 2 goalkeeper Brian Perk made certain they got a result.
Perk was superb, one of very few LA players deserving of such an accolade, as the Galaxy pulled out a 0-0 draw – their fifth straight shutout, all competitions – in a difficult encounter at Estadio Juan Ramón Loubriel.
The third-year goalkeeper, making just his sixth competitive first-team appearance of the season, made seven saves – five of them critical – to post his second successive CCL shutout and lead the Galaxy one step closer to next year's quarterfinals.
“We've come to expect that of him,” defender Andrew Boyens said after the tie in balmy conditions on a spongy field that made even the simplest maneuvers tough. “Week in and week out at training, in reserve games, and he's done it again tonight. He was outstanding.”
The former UCLA star came up huge against former D.C. United forward Nicholas Addlery just seven minutes in, knocking away his shot at the left post. He made diving saves on Noah Delgado in the 71st minute and Joseph Marrero in the 89th. And he was in the right place for close-range saves in the final 15 minutes on former Galaxy midfielder Josh Hansen and Hector Ramos.
It added up to a point with which, given the conditions, the Galaxy were quite pleased.
“All in all, I think that we can be satisfied with the result,” said Perk, who made four starts during Josh Saunders' leave of absence in May and got the call for the 4-0 romp over the Islanders three weeks ago at the Home Depot Center. “It’s always tough to play here, and the guys gave a really good effort, but towards the end, it was a dogfight.
“We were battling back and forth and bringing on fresh legs up top on both sides, so credit to both backlines. They kept zeros, and it was a pretty fair assessment of the game.”
A fair assessment of Perk?
“I thought he did very well,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “He had to make a couple of saves that looked comfortable. His distribution was very good. His kicking game was good. His organization of the backline was very good. I've been very impressed with him over the last couple of months. He's really grown, looks a lot more experienced as a goalkeeper.”
Perk deflected the praise, noting that Puerto Rico goalkeeper Richard Martin was quite good, too – Martin had far less to do than Perk – but acknowledged the performance adds to his confidence.
“It’s something that you can carry over to the next game, whenever it is that I play,” he said. “It reaffirms what you already know, so it’s always good. Sure, it’s a confidence-booster, but there are more games, and this is just one.”