One of the new players Los Angeles Galaxy picked up during the offseason is former Canadian international Rob Friend. It is his first year in MLS, but so far it seems he will be rather successful, which is good news for Galaxy. Sometimes it takes players time to adjust; even though Friend is far from a professional soccer rookie, he is a rookie in the league.
In this week’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Club Tijuana, Friend really showcased his talents. At halftime Bruce Arena decided to let Friend come on in place of Brazilian forward Samuel. I won’t say Friend is the only reason Galaxy played better in the second half — lots of credit for that goes to Robbie Keane — but Friend was definitely a helping hand. Defenders are usually the tall players, not forwards, but Friend uses his 6-foot-5 stature to the best of his ability. He’s able to win balls because of his height which is obviously beneficial to his club.
He also played with the club in the preseason friendly against Shirak FC, where he headed a pass that was almost converted in to a goal. Then in the season opener against Real Salt Lake he was able to win Galaxy a penalty, which was sadly missed by Robbie Keane. Although both chances did not give Galaxy an extra push, the fault was not his. I think I made a correct assessment in naming him as one of players to watch out for this season.
What I think keeps Friend from starting is that he is a forward, and there are so many good forwards in Galaxy’s lineup. Landon Donovan was pushed back to a midfielder, but Keane, Gyasi Zardes and Samuel are still up top. Friend needs to prove he is as good as the best; I think it’s time Galaxy gives him a starting chance. Let him play from the beginning rather than be subbed in late in the game; maybe he’ll surprise us.