The LA Galaxy were able to defeat Real Salt Lake 2-0 on the road in Sandy, Utah using a lineup composed of two players making MLS debuts. LA got goals from Mike Magee and Charlie Rugg, with Rugg's goal his first in MLS while making his league debut.
The Galaxy were without Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Carlo Cudicini, and Todd Dunivant who all were dealing with some sort of injury. Donovan and Cudicini were out with right leg strains, and Dunivant was out with a left leg strain. Keane was kept out with a left ankle sprain.
Keane's injury meant Rugg started up top with McBean, but Magee got the Galaxy on the board first heading in a Juninho free kick in the sixth minute. RSL's set piece unit focused on Omar Gonzalez, who attracted a crowd and let Magee be the one to go for the ball. It paid off and the Galaxy found themselves up early.
The rookie making his debut didn't have to wait long to open up his MLS account, as seven minutes later Jimenez was able to dribble to the touchline then send a cross in to Charlie Rugg who smashed it in for his first MLS goal.
Rugg wasn't the only player making a debut, as Brian Rowe started for the Galaxy in goal for his first MLS appearance. He wasn't offered a contract after Chivas selected him in the 2012 Supplemental Draft, then sat on various benches as an MLS pool keeper. The Galaxy signed him at the end of last season, and with Brian Perk still recovering from surgery Rowe was able to come in and get a clean sheet. Coincidentally, Rowe succeeded Perk as starting goalkeeper at UCLA.
It wasn't easy, he had to make seven saves with some being quite difficult. RSL dominated possession, with over 70% of it, which meant Rowe had to be on his guard for more than two thirds of the match. Greg Cochrane held his own in his second start backing up Todd Dunivant. Ultimately the Galaxy showed just how much depth this squad has getting a clean sheet and a two-nil victory on the road missing four starters.
Of course, that's a bit of an overstatement as five of the players crucial to keeping a clean sheet were Galaxy veterans. Arena got lucky in that the injuries happened to the players on the outside with the core remaining intact. LA also got a bit of luck when Alvaro Saborio was unable to go tonight. As much as RSL was able to get offensive pressure going that lacked that final touch.
Luck was also a huge factor. RSL hit the crossbar twice late in the match and a stoppage time goal could have completely changed the outcome. RSL also got a bit of luck, as Gyasi Zardes making his MLS debut did some great dribbling, creating a chance for Hector Jimenez which the post kept out. Zardes came in after Jack McBean went out holding his collarbone, the pain on his face had many fearing it could be a serious injury.
If McBean is unavailable for an extended period, it's good to know that there is young depth behind him. Jose Villarreal, Charlie Rugg, and Gyasi Zardes are all available to step into that role next to Robbie Keane. Hopefully McBean isn't out for too long.