By Alex Baker
(Carson, CA) – LA Galaxy reserve goalkeeper Brian Perk was the hero as the Galaxy drew 0-0 drew at home against the Seattle Sounders. Thrust into his first ever MLS game thanks to the injury of Donovan Ricketts and red card suspension of Josh Saunders, the 21 year old came up big when he saved a Freddy Montero penalty kick in the 19th minute.
“Give Perk a lot of credit in his first game,” said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. “I don’t think he was tested a lot but certainly a penalty kick is as much of a test as you’re ever gonna face.”
Despite Landon Donovan returning to the starting lineup the Galaxy (9-2-9) struggled to create chances against a Seattle side that appeared to outpace them all over the pitch. When the home side were able to line up a shot, their forwards seemed woefully off target.
Injuries to the Galaxy’s two starting center-backs; AJ DeLaGarza and Omar Gonzalez, forced Arena to make defense-minded changes that made it difficult to sort out the side’s problems in the attacking third.
“I think the final score is a fair result,” said Arena. “That was a game that was pretty even. I would’ve liked to have had the chance to make a couple of other substitutions in the second half but obviously when you have to make changes to center-backs that’s difficult.”
Montero won the Seattle (8-4-8) penalty kick in the 18th minute when he attempted a bicycle kick from inside the box. The ball appeared to take a deflection of Gonzalez’s hand, allowing Perk to make the save.
Montero stepped up to the mark and duly dispatched a kick that was headed for the right post. However the young keeper guessed correctly and made a diving save to keep the ball out of the net.
“I just looked at him,” said Perk afterwards. “I’d seen him play before and I thought he was a crafty player and he’d try to show me one way and go the other and lucky I guessed the right way.”
The Galaxy had a good chance to score in the 35th minute. Chris Birchall made a run down the flank and played in a cross for Chad Barrett. Barrett made a pass to Juan Pablo Angel who got off a shot from inside the 18 that went wide of the far post.
Angel had another good chance come and go midway through the second half when he received a ball in from Landon Donovan. However the striker again sent his effort wide. Seconds later David Beckham was introduced for Mike Magee. But even the veteran England midfielder failed to tilt that game in the Galaxy’s favor.
“Beckham we knew could play about 20-25 minutes tonight and I thought David did well having been out for a couple of weeks,” said Arena.
With Seattle moving the ball around dangerously and LA on the back foot, Gonzalez gave away a corner in the 77th minute and was injured in the process. With his fellow center-back DeLaGarza already having been subbed off injured for Gregg Berhalter, the Galaxy bench ran short of defenders and midfielder Brian Jordan had to be introduced for Gonzalez.
“When Omar went down I was thinking maybe we should take the draw,” said Perk afterwards. “0-0’s not the worst result with both of our center-backs down.”
Despite a late flurry of activity from the Sounders, the Galaxy were able to hold on for the draw in front of a satisfied home crowd of more than 26,000.
While the home side may have looked sharp in their new third kit on the night, this was not the case in front of goal. In spite of maintaining their unbeaten streak to eleven games, the number of draws and the inability of their strikers to find the back of the net when called upon could be cause for concern.
But one area the Galaxy apparently need not be worried about is goalkeeping.
“I think we have three good goalkeepers,” said Arena. “Perky we’ve had now for about a year. I thought tonight he looked like a guy that’s played before.”
The player himself was equally upbeat about his debut professional performance.
“I went in there and obviously I was a little bit nervous but after the first five or ten minutes I felt pretty good,” said Perk. “There’s a lot things I need to work on but for the most part it was pretty solid.”
The Galaxy will look to maintain their unbeaten streak and return to winning ways as they host the Chicago Fire on Saturday July 9th at the Home Depot Center.