Through the first half of the 2021 season, it appeared Jonathan Klinsmann was the odd man out on the LA Galaxy roster.
A holdover from the 2020 campaign, Klinsmann seemed like an upgrade over David Bingham in goal in limited minutes last year, but when the club added Jonathan Bond this past offseason, Klinsmann looked like he would be a peripheral figure, unless something happened along the way to Bond, who started his Galaxy tenure in sparkling fashion.
But Klinsmann got his chance on Saturday when the Galaxy faced Minnesota United at Allianz Field, and the backup made the most of the moment, making seven saves to preserve a 1-0 away win for LA.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 15, 2021
Jonathan Klinsmann's performance to help us get the #MINvLA victory ✨ pic.twitter.com/zmmD7h1zaL
While the decision to change goalkeepers for a game can be seen as risky, it was one that paid off handsomely.
“We’re midway through the season and three games in [seven] days…” head coach Greg Vanney told reporters on Saturday after the game in explaining why Klinsmann got the nod. “He’s looked sharp in training. In a normal season, you have cup games and you have different things that you want to keep and specifically your second goalkeeper ready… We don’t have those this year, so he’s been working hard and doing everything that we asked. [Jonathan Bond] has played the 18 games prior and it was an opportunity to give this kid, who is working hard every day, an opportunity to go out and perform and he did.”
Vanney noted that teams can’t plan for unforeseen events and giving the backup goalkeeper some minutes is useful for those scenarios.
“We need to make sure everyone is ready down the stretch,” he said. “You never know who is going to get called upon in a moment when you need to win and you get to the playoffs and all that kind of stuff. He proved today that he’s ready for whatever role that we give him. He was outstanding. He made some incredibly athletic saves throughout the course of the game. I thought he did a good job. We don’t come away with those points without the performance that he had. We’re incredibly proud of him because he has remained focused and is working hard. He’s a confident young man, he’s sure of himself and he got in there and showed good reason to be.”
For his part, Klinsmann, who joined the Galaxy midseason last year after a spell in Germany with Hertha Berlin and in Switzerland with St. Gallen, said being at home in California has helped him feel settled and able to focus on his job.
And he certainly relished the opportunity to show what he’s been working on.
“It means everything,” he said postgame. “I’ve been waiting 18 games for a game. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Bondy has been doing great. We’ve been pushing each other every training session. He’s made me a better goalkeeper and I’ve made him, hopefully, a better goalkeeper. For me, it was just waiting for this chance and just taking it. I’m happy to help the team win. It’s all you can really ask for is to get those three points away from home and be able to come home at the start of this tough week now. It was a good game, a fun game and it was nice to be out there.”
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