In his 10th-consecutive start for the Los Angeles Galaxy, Gyasi Zardes netted his third goal of the season, and it wasn't just any old goal. It was the first goal he's scored using his feet. The equalizer against the Vancouver Whitecaps last Saturday showcased the incredible talent and skill that the 21-year-old possesses.
After signing with the Galaxy as a Homegrown player before the season began, expectations were high for the youngster. He was widely considered to be one of the best players coming out of college, and if he had gone through the MLS superdraft, there's no doubt that he would've been picked first overall.
Known for his speed and eccentric hairstyle, the young forward has had somewhat of an average season so far. The match against the Whitecaps was his chance to step up and lead the Galaxy attack as both Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan were unavailable to play.
Zardes did indeed put his best foot forward and out-shot the entire Vancouver team 6-2. He's done the same to Chivas USA (8-6) and FC Dallas (7-6) this season. Not afraid to shoot, the 21-year-old ranks seventh in the league (minimum 11 appearances) in shots per game with 3.2.
Just for some perspective on how impressive Zardes' feat is, the league's leader in shots per game, Camilo Sanvezzo (3.7), has only out-shot an opposing team once in 15 starts this season.
The young speedster does have much to learn and improve on though. He averages 3.1 turnovers per game (the most in MLS) and only has a 67 percent pass-completion rate.
In comparison, Robbie Keane, his strike partner and arguably the best forward in MLS, has a 77.6 percent pass-completion rate and turns the ball over 1.9 times per game (18th in the league).
However, the Irish captain makes up for his giveaways in assists and key passes. With seven assists this season, he's tied with Sebastien Le Toux for the lead and 2.9 key passes per game puts him in fifth.
|Gyasi Zardes||Statistic||Robbie Keane|
|14 (10)||Appearances (Starts)||12 (12)|
|3.2 (7th)||Shots/Game||2.8 (14th)|
|3.1 (1st)||TO/Game||1.9 (18th)|
|0.9 (86th)||Key Passes/Game||2.9 (5th)|
|67% (227th)||Pass Completion||77.6% (104th)|
With Robbie Keane still questionable for the upcoming match against Colorado and Landon Donovan away on Gold Cup duty, Gyasi once again has the opportunity to be the focal point of the offense.
If he can build off of his great performance last week and continue to impress, there's no reason why he can't contend for MLS Rookie of the Year honors.