CARSON, Calif. – Gyasi Zardes is quite the fan of the LA Galaxy's new midfield alignment. Now that's he's getting healthy again, he can't wait to experience it from the inside.
The second-year attacker returned from a leg injury for the final dozen minutes of LA's victory last weekend over Vancouver and says he's ready for Saturday's rematch in British Columbia (7 pm ET, MLS LIVE in US, TSN in Canada).
And if he gets the call in the diamond midfield, all the better.
“I like this lineup, to be honest,” said Zardes, who started on the flank in LA's first two three games this season, including both legs of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Club Tijuana. “I'm able to use my speed inside. Just because you have speed doesn't mean you have to be outside and wide, you know?
“I like to be inside where I could just get the ball, turn, and just run. It's fun. I like it better playing kind of this diamond shape.”
Zardes, who combines great pace, size, skill, savvy and impressive athleticism, is foremost a forward, so he prefers to play centrally. The Galaxy started using him primarily as a winger last summer, but he impressed up top during preseason, scoring two sensational goals that testified to his growth in front of the net.
LA have greater depth at forward than they had last year, so Zardes' versatility – he can play at any position among the front six – means he's likely to be off the front two.
“I can play forward, I can play middle,” he said. “Doesn't matter.”
Coach Bruce Arena isn't sharing his lineup – he says it's possible that the lineup could change, in response to BC Place's artificial surface, but not much else – but he's used the same personnel the past two matches, both shutout victories: Stefan Ishizaki atop the diamond, Juninho underneath, Marcelo Sarvas and Baggio Husidic pinching in from the flanks, with Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan up front.
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Zardes has been observing from the bench after he took a hard knock on his right leg, near his knee, in training three weeks ago.
“A 50-50 tackle with [goalkeeper] Jaime Penedo in training,” he said. “The first couple of days, I couldn't walk. It was crazy.”
There's still some discomfort, but he says he's at about 95 percent and ready to go the full 90 if asked. He's benefited from a mature perspective on getting hurt.
“The way I look at it, God has his plan for me, you know?” Zardes said. “Definitely sitting out for a little bit, and sitting out for a little bit is humbling. [I'm] just not taking anything for granted. One day I'm fine and healthy, the next day I get hurt. Just got to be patient.”