Jonathan Bond had his first experience in front of a larger audience in Southern California Saturday, as he started in goal for the LA Galaxy in their preseason game against the New England Revolution, a 1-0 win for LA that was aired on local TV.
That win came courtesy of a Jonathan Perez goal in the first half, but at least as much through the exploits of Bond, who made several saves to keep the Revs — playing a stronger starting XI than the Galaxy — off the scoreboard.
Bond’s performance, lasting about an hour, drew many of the headlines from the game.
“I thought he was excellent,” Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney said to reporters postgame when asked about the new goalkeeper’s night. “He was very connected to our backline, in the first half, especially, when our backline is active and really trying to unbalance the timing of the opposition, the times they played it behind, and it became a little fuzzy he was there to clean things up, which was great.”
Even with Vanney likely to give his young players more playing time than his predecessor, only about half, or even a little less, of the players who started Saturday were projected starters. While Bond hasn’t been proclaimed the starter, he looks likely to grab that mantle at present.
For his part, the player himself isn’t thinking specifically about a goalkeeper competition, primarily with Jonathan Klinsmann, who played the final 30 minutes on Saturday.
“I don’t think you think about the competition side of things, just concentrate on your own game,” Bond told reporters during pregame availability on Friday. “So I’m trying to implement what the manager and our goalkeeping coach and generally the coaching staff want me to do. And I’ve enjoyed it, I felt comfortable doing it. I feel comfortable playing with the guys, with the team. So, yeah, it’s just about doing, I think probably the same for Justin [Vom Steeg], Eric [Lopez] and JK as well, that we all want to kind of implement what the style of play, that the manager is looking for. So it’s the same for all of us.”
Bond joined the Galaxy after playing professionally in his native England, most recently with Premier League side West Brom, where he mostly served as a backup. Any concerns about his readiness to jump into regular playing time seem to not be held by Vanney, who is encouraging Bond to push his limits in terms of his aggression.
“It’s something that we’ve asked him to do over the preseason, to be a little bit adventurous in preseason to where he found his comfort zone in terms of supporting the backline and all that,” Vanney explained. “So during this process, he can find and we can find as a group, where he’s most comfortable being and where our line is most comfortable being in. Tonight he was in great spots, showed his experience and decision-making, made some great saves — again, we put him in some very difficult situations with the way we lost balls right in front of our backline and we exposed ourselves and he was there to bail us out on a number of occasions.”
The modern game expects goalkeepers to not only be aggressive but to play well with their feet and actually connect passes out of the back. Bond said he’s adapting to the expectations but he’s settling in.
“Playing out from the back, being comfortable with the ball in your feet, sometimes joining in as a three at the back, and participating in that, being very high as well. We want to be an aggressive team this year and try and hold a high line as much as we can,” Bond said. “So reading things in behind the back line and then obviously the communication side of things that comes with that as well. So yeah, things I’m sure all of us have done before. I don’t think any of the guys feel uncomfortable doing it.”
Vanney endorses Bond’s ability to play the ball so far in preseason.
“He’s been very good and in all the games so far and his experience and composure has really, really shown for us. And he’s comfortable with the ball at his feet, he’s picked out good passes, he’s helped us to try to build some things that we still need to improve on, but he’s done a good job of making good decisions with the ball, even at his feet and in his distribution,” Vanney said.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.