It's possible, but Bruce Arena and his staff have little to say about who will be LA's goalkeeper when they take on the Colorado Rapids in a critical Western Conference game Saturday night at the StubHub Center (10:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), only stating that they have three candidates and confidence in all three.
Cudicini, the Italian goalkeeper signed last winter to replace Josh Saunders in the Galaxy's nets, hasn't played nor made an 18-man game roster since the 3-3 draw at FC Dallas on Aug. 11. Penedo has impressed while starting the last four first-team matches, including the 2-0 CONCACAF Champions League victory over Cartaginés on Aug. 20, and Brian Rowe has been his backup in every game.
Rowe also got 90 minutes in Sunday's Reserve League draw with San Jose, and Brian Perk, coming back from two concussions, served as his backup.
Cudicini's absences from game rosters speaks volumes, it seems, but Arena will says it's “just my decision, decisions you make,” and associate head coach Dave Sarachan recommends that everyone “read less into that” than the media apparently has.
“I have to do the talking on the pitch,” said Cudicini, who turns 40 on Friday. “I think outside the pitch, a lot of people are doing all the talking – on the websites, on the MLS website, on TV. So I think there's enough people talking a lot – for me, too much – and so I'd rather talk on the pitch, and that's actually the only place I should talk.”
His mission: “Try to get better on the field and see what the manager's decision is.”
Rowe has started five first-team games: LA's first two regular-season meetings with Real Salt Lake, a US Open Cup loss to the Carolina RailHawks and International Champions Cup friendlies against Real Madrid and Juventus, as well as six of eight Reserve League matches.
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“We trust Brian,” Sarachan said. “It was great [for him] to bank another 90 minutes [in the reserve game last weekend]. Every time these guys get 90 minutes in real games, it pays dividends down the line. ... He's still a work in progress, but it's a good 90 minutes banked.”
Rowe (pictured at right) says he's “made good strides” this season after joining the Galaxy from the MLS goalkeeper pool last summer. He produced an extraordinary performance in the 2-0 victory at RSL in April and has looked solid in the Reserve League matches.
“I feel like it's starting to come along,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “I'm slowing myself down, maybe catching up with the speed of play. Just positioning-wise and stuff like that, cleaning things up. It's all come along as I've gotten more games.”
Rowe says he has no expectations for the Colorado game and notes that “we've got three great goalkeepers to choose from, so I'm sure you can't go wrong with any of them."