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Unlikely Performance From 3rd-String Goalkeeper Helps Galaxy to Scoreless Draw

Jonathan Kendrick |
July 5, 2011 | 9:14 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer


Brian Perk (pictured here with Philadelphia Union) had an impressive MLS debut for the Galaxy. (Spierod via Wikimedia Commons)
Brian Perk (pictured here with Philadelphia Union) had an impressive MLS debut for the Galaxy. (Spierod via Wikimedia Commons)
As far as debuts go, it doesn't get much tougher than what 21-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk faced Monday night in his first MLS match. It also doesn't get much better than his performance.

Perk, forced into action because of usual starter Donovan Ricketts' broken arm and backup Josh Saunders' suspension, weathered the loss of both of his starting center backs to in-game injuries, saved an 18th minute penalty kick and shut out the red-hot Seattle Sounders for 90 minutes in the Galaxy's 0-0 draw at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Not bad for a third-stringer.

"Tonight he looked like a guy who has played before," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said about Perk. "It's nice to know he can play."

Perk's shutout came after midfielder Mike Magee played the entire second half of last week's game against San Jose in goal, making five saves on his way to a shutout and the MLS Player of the Week award.

"We've gotten away with Magee and Perk the last two games," Arena said. He went on to joke, "We might need to get rid of Ricketts."

Perk said his nerves faded ten minutes into the match, but he could sense the occasion during the playing of the national anthem before kickoff.

"On the Fourth of July, being an American, it was something special," Perk said. "I knew this was a big game—my first professional game, which is what we all aspire to do—so I was very pleased."

The Sounders made an impressive start to the match, looking to test Perk early and often.

Seattle forward Roger Levesque found himself open in the box in the 3rd minute, but put his shot well over the crossbar.

The Sounders drew a penalty in the 18th minute, when Fredy Montero's bicycle kick attempt deflected off of Omar Gonzalez's hand. Montero stepped up to the spot and sent a low shot toward the left post, but Perk read it perfectly, making a diving save.

"Certainly a penalty kick is as much of a test as you're ever going to face," Arena said. "A lot of credit to Brian."

Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza was forced to leave the match in the 24th minute, when he was substituted for veteran Gregg Berhalter. DeLaGarza looked to have been accidentally kicked in the face by Montero in the 13th minute and was diagnosed with a concussion.

The Sounders were back on the attack two minutes after the penalty save, when defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado headed Tyson Wahl's corner kick wide of the far post.

Los Angeles soon began to climb back into the game, with Landon Donovan finding Mike Magee in dangerous positions in the 24th and 28th minutes. Magee popped his first attempt high into the air and put the second well wide of the far post.

Juan Pablo Angel had the Galaxy's best chance of the opening half in the 36th minute, receiving a pass from strike partner Chad Barrett in the middle of the box. Angel turned and pulled his low shot wide of the far post.

The Galaxy failed to tally a shot on goal in the first half but made a much brighter start to the second period of play.

Barrett hit a shot over the crossbar in the 48th minute and Donovan put a weak header on goal two minutes later.

Midfielder Chris Birchall had an open shot at the top of the box in the 51st minute, but dragged his effort wide of the far post. Donovan nearly found Birchall open in the box five minutes later but the Trinidad and Tobago international couldn't get his head to the ball in time. The ball bounced to Berhalter at the far post and the defender's volley screamed across the goal mouth and out of play.

Angel came as close to a goal as the Galaxy would all night in the 68th minute. He received a pass from Donovan at the edge of the penalty box, cut inside and fired a low shot that Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller tipped onto the post and out of bounds.

"I was really proud of the adjustments we made. The effort was good [but] we just weren't sharp," Donovan said.

David Beckham, who had missed the last two matches with a slight stress fracture of his spine, entered the match before the ensuing corner kick to a rousing ovation from the sellout crowd of 27,000 at the Home Depot Center.

The English international looked healthy in his 25 minutes of action but lacked his usual sharpness in dead ball situations.

"It still aches a little bit," said Beckham, who revealed he took both a cortisone and epidural shot to help with the pain before the game.

Gonzalez came out of the game in the 80th minute for Bryan Jordan after falling on his hip. Gonzalez was diagnosed with a left hip pointer.

Barrett nearly gave the Galaxy the win in spectacular fashion in the 85th minute but could only deflect the ball wide on a twisting bicycle kick attempt.

Perk charged out from his goalmouth in the 90th minute to grab a cross, sealing his first career MLS shutout.

"Whether it's me, Saunders or Ricketts, it seems like we're always giving up zero or one goal," Perk said, giving credit to the Galaxy's defense, which ranks second in MLS with 15 goals allowed.

"It kind of epitomizes what this team is about," Donovan said. "I'm pretty confident in saying that there's not another team that [could have] their third-string goalie playing against maybe the hottest team in the league right now and come away with a shutout. We're very proud of that."

News and Notes

-- Ricketts underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured ulna in his left arm that he suffered in last week's game against San Jose. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

-- The injuries at center back are piling up quickly for the Galaxy. Sean Alvarado and Leonardo are already out long-term, having undergone knee surgeries, with DeLaGarza (concussion) and Gonzalez (left hip pointer) leaving Monday's game hurt. "It's a center back curse this year," said Berhalter, the lone healthy natural center back left on the roster. "I want to change my position."

-- Perk became the second goalkeeper in MLS history to record his first save on a penalty kick stop, matching Matt Napoleon's feat for the Miami Fusion in 1998. "I hope to be the next Matt Napoleon," Perk joked to reporters. The Galaxy certainly hope not, as Napoleon started only 12 games in his five-year MLS career.

-- The Galaxy defeated the Los Angeles Blues 2-1 last Tuesday night at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif., progressing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. The competition features knockout play between teams from five professional and amateur American leagues, including MLS. Cesar Rivera opened the scoring for the Blues, who play in the United Soccer League's Professional Division, with a 62nd-minute goal. The Galaxy quickly responded, with Gonzalez scoring the equalizer in the 75th minute and midfielder Mike Magee grabbing the winner in the 81st. The Galaxy will play the Sounders in the quarterfinals on July 12th at the Starfire Sports Complex outside of Seattle.

-- The Galaxy debuted their new punjab and gold third uniforms for the holiday match. The jerseys and shorts are mainly punjab, a deep blue that looks almost black, with gold lining.

-- Next up for the Galaxy is a Saturday night home date with the Chicago Fire. The Fire have tied their last four matches and sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference on 18 points.


Reach Jonathan by email. Follow him on Twitter, @jjkendrick.



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