CARSON, Calif. – One of the few really good things the LA Galaxy saw in last weekend's disappointing outing at FC Dallas was the performance of first-year left-sider Greg Cochrane, who stepped into injured Todd Dunivant's shoes and looked like a veteran.
The second-round draft choice out of Louisville became the first rookie to see first-team action for the Galaxy this season, and his presence nearly secured a point for them. His heads-up play after goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini saved Kenny Cooper's penalty kick kept things level, at least until the final minutes of the match.
He fared well opposite FC Dallas winger Jackson, got forward into the attack and delivered a couple of nice crosses.
“I think he played well,” head coach Bruce Arena said following Wednesday's training session at the Home Depot Center. “I think for his first game he showed great composure, he held up physically, he did a pretty solid job defensively ... Obviously, any young player's first game, they're going to be a little nervous and all that, but he showed enough in the preseason that we were confident he would hold his own.”
Cochrane could get the call again this weekend, to start or come off the bench, when the Galaxy take on Sporting Kansas City (10:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com). Dunivant played through the CONCACAF Champions League series with Monterrey with a high leg strain and hasn't trained fully since.
“He's got a lot of energy, and I think his fitness is probably his biggest attribute. He likes to get up and down the field,” said Dunivant, who trained on the side Wednesday but plans to fully immerse himself in training Thursday. “He did a good job defensively, too. He's going up against Jackson, who's one of the hottest players ion the league right now. It was a big performance, and he shut it down.”
Cochrane was the Galaxy's most impressive rookie during preseason, playing primarily on the left side of midfield. He seemed more comfortable at left back.
“I was just trying to play simple, not do anything too crazy,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “It was definitely nice to get that under my belt, to move forward. It's always nice that they have confidence in me if Todd goes down, to go in and replace him. It's just one game. Hopefully, there will more to come.”
Cochrane was key in the 61st minute, after Leonardo was red-carded for taking down Blas Perez in the box and Cudicini responded with a diving save on Cooper's penalty kick. The rebound rolled toward Perez, who had an easy finish in front of him -- until Cochrane raced in and knocked the ball away, sending it across the goalmouth and past the left post.
“Once I saw there was a rebound, my first thought was, 'Greg, you better get there,' ” Cochrane said. “I saw the guy coming, it was an open net, so I was just trying to do everything I could to just get the ball out of danger, and luckily it went by the post.”
Dunivant hopes he can be ready for KC, and Arena says he is “confident” his left back will be available.
“Went through the paces, did some long strides, did some short stuff,” Dunivant reported after Wednesday's session. “We even played over there [on the sideline], short-sided. Didn't feel any pain. So that's a good sign. I think tomorrow we'll try to ramp it up and join into full training and go from there.”