Reasons to Be Excited about Gyasi Zardes, LA Galaxy and USMNT Forward

Soccer Features La Galaxy

After every World Cup, national teams go through an inevitable transitional period—out with the old, in with the new. It’s a bittersweet time for fans of a national team. You see players you’ve fallen in love with end their careers, but you are also introduced to a new crop trying to prove themselves at the highest level.

One of these new players this cycle for the US Men’s National Team is LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes. After a breakout sophomore season for the Galaxy, which saw him record 16 goals, Zardes got the call up to the USMNT’s annual January camp, which concluded with two friendlies. After a cameo sub appearance in the first match against Chile, Gyasi got a huge chance to impress with a start in the final game against Panama.

Below is a video of all of his key touches I have compiled. Let’s take a look at some of the positives and negatives from his performance.


0:17, 0:33, 0:43 — Some early crisp touches shows he had no problem fighting nerves in his first start. He also showed some nice composure combining with teammates in tight spaces.

1:03 — While he does concede a freekick outside of the box, he shows great work rate and a willingness to track back and defend.

1:17 — A brilliant first touch into open space to set himself up for a cross. Unfortunately no one was making a run for him to find. A big knock on Zardes is his first touch, but with touches like this he’s starting to reverse some of those opinions.

1:54 — The pivotal moment in the match for Zardes, he does well to gain possession and darts into space. While in a great spot he keeps his head and finds Clint Dempsey with a perfectly weighted through ball for the goal.

3:15 — Zardes plays a slick one-two with Diskerud and then uses his blazing pace to win a freekick in a dangerous spot for his team. The Panama defenders had no answer for him on the day.


4:20 — Technically this would be considered a “half chance” but at the highest level he should at least make contact and get a shot on frame. While this is just one incident, he’s shown a propensity for missing chances and that is a concern.

5:21 — After a decent touch to receive the ball on the wing, it would be nice to see him take his man one on one and use his strength instead of being passive.

5:35 — His simple ball to Yedlin on the overlap is too strong and sets up the right back for a collision that injures him. It’s the little things like this he needs to improve on.

5:45 — A lazy pass results in a loss of possession. It’s needless and careless. Overall his passing was very good, but he needs to cut down on miscues like this at the international level.

So a very bright performance from Zardes in his first USMNT start, with plenty to be excited about. But also some obvious room for growth in his game, mostly in areas that will naturally improve as he gains more experience. While it’s not clear what position Zardes will play in the long run—is he a central striker or a wide attacker?—it’s going to be fun to follow his upwards career trajectory, which should include plenty more appearances for the USMNT.

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