Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy got off to a great start to their preseason with a 2-1 victory over FC Shirak at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. on Saturday. Serge Deble opened up the scoring for Shirak in the 35th minute but goals from Samuel (42′) and Gyasi Zardes (75′) turned the tables in favor of the four-time MLS Champions.
Gyasi’s progression as a forward has won him praise from the boss.
“Very good finish by Gyasi,” Arena told MLSSoccer.com’s Scott French. “Obviously, something I don’t think he would have finished that play last year.”
“Yeah, definitely. I agree with him,” Zardes said. “Last year I wanted to blast everything. I felt like I was more composed. Once I collected the ball, then I just looked up and placed my shot.
“The ball comes to the top of the D, you control it, and you place it. I felt that repetition helped me out with that goal.”
“I’ve been playing a lot of wing, but it feels good to get back up top. [Scoring the goal] feels wonderful. You work hard at training, and to put one in the back of the net during the game, it feels great.”
Midfielder Landon Donovan was in the mix against Shirak on Saturday and was pleased to get the legs back in shape.
“I feel great. I feel sharp and fit and excited to get back and get started playing some games,” Donovan told LAGalaxy.com’s Adam Serrano. “[I’m] probably a little bit ahead of everybody as far as fitness and stuff, but it’s nice. Omar and I are happy to be back here and ready to play.
“I can play wherever I’m needed. But it would be nice to have some other guys take some pressure off. Those guys seem eager and hungry to make an impact. I think when you look at some of the qualities we have on our team you would expect that I would play at midfield to some extent. But if there’s times in the year I play forward that’s fine too.
“A lot of our young guys are progressing, so more than ever I think there’s going to be a lot of competition. We have fewer games, which helps. We have no excuses why we can’t do well this year.”
Forward Rob Friend got his first reps as a member of the Galaxy and he believes he can deliver consistency to the club.
“I feel that I am getting a lot stronger physically,” Friend told reporters. “It’s taking me a while to adjust, I’ve never done this kind of preseason, totally different training than I’m used to in Germany. This is the best I’ve felt, every week I’m getting better and stronger so I’m excited. Another 4-5 weeks of preseason, and I think I’ll be sharp.
“I just need to figure out where I can find my spots. I can take away defenders off of that physical presence. So with Omar and I, and a few more guys, we are going to have a lot more goals of some pieces.”
“[Friend's] a different player,” Samuel said of the Canadian international. “We have different styles of play but I think he’s a great player. Throughout the season I think we will be able to connect better.”
Another face to watch out for on the Galaxy side is midfielder Stefan Ishizaki. Although he didn’t impress against Shirak, he does have an opportunity to clean up his act when they head up the road to Chukchansi Park in Fresno to put up with the San Jose Earthquakes.
“[Shirak] were a good team. A lot better than what I expected,” Ishizaki said after the match. “They played good football and they were really good in their counterattack with their speedy striker number eight up front, he was very good.
“I felt like we had a bunch of chances we could have scored on and then we have them a one nil goal but we came back and the first half ended 1-1. It was an alright result. We could have played a little better but it was an alright game from our end.”