CARSON, Calif. – Despite his recent benching, Carlo Cudicini is likely to be back in the nets Wednesday night for the LA Galaxy.
Coach Bruce Arena provided a vote of confidence in advance of LA's Wednesday night Western Conference showdown with Portland at StubHub Center (10 pm ET, MLS LIVE), declaring him “our No. 1 goalkeeper,” but he wants to see more from the Italian veteran and won't be shy about giving either of the backups a game.
“I had a chat with the manager, and I knew I wasn't traveling, so it wasn't a surprise,” said Cudicini when asked how he felt about not making the 18 in Utah. “Probably my performance since the start of the season has been up and down, and I want to do better. I have to do better. It tends to be consistency. My view is I should play games, Bruce's view is different, so I'm taking time off from the game to train harder and get rid of a few physical issues.”
Arena said the switch was about getting time for Rowe and Perk ahead of CONCACAF Champions League group play and the International Champions Cup friendlies that will complicate the schedule this summer and into fall. Rowe, so good in his MLS debut six weeks earlier at RSL, when Cudicini was injured, wasn't particularly sharp in the 3-1 defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Perk, the Galaxy's No. 2 'keeper last year and until he was knocked out by hernia surgery earlier this season, got the start in Saturday's reserve-league game against USL PRO side LA Blues, but was replaced by Rowe in the seventh minute after he was hurt in a collision.
The decision to keep Cudicini at home, after he'd surrendered five goals to New England, sparked speculation that competition for the starting job is again open.
“Look, I think in the dynamics of teams, every job is up for grabs every day,” associate head coach Dave Sarachan said. “We still have full confidence in Carlo. I think we have three very good goalies. I think it's a battle, and now it's up to them to see who emerges.”
Arena praised Cudicini's organization of his backline, which he said “limits chances on other teams,” but emphasized he needed to be “a little better in his shot-blocking.”
“I think when you review the goals that have gone past him, you can't fault him a whole lot,” Sarachan said. “It's been a combination of a lot of breakdowns. I would say he probably gets a solid B. I wouldn't put him in the A category yet, but I wouldn't say he's been average either.
"I think he organizes great, he's a real experienced guy within our team, and he has made some saves. Now, can it be better? Sure. But that's the progress we're making.”
To get an A, what must he do?
“Make the big save,” Sarachan said. “When your defense lets you down or there's a breakdown in front of you, you've got to be able to make that big save. Once he begins to do that, we feel the full package is complete.”
Cudicini has nothing to say on whether he's solidly the top guy or just hanging on to the starting job.
“It's not up to me to say that,” he said. “I'm a player, and the only thing I have to think about is to train and play when asked. And then, of course, anything else, I'll speak to the manager, and we keep it between us.”