Gyasi Zardes is in a group of young or new American players who are playing in Major League Soccer or elsewhere who have been tagged with the label of being “raw,” “promising,” or “inexperienced.”
Zardes has been tagged with the raw label so much that it has clouded a more important label: talented.
There’s simply no way to watch Gyasi Zardes play and not notice the skill, the fearlessness, the physique, the speed, and the technical ability of the 21-year-old striker.
The LA Galaxy first striker who finds himself just shoved into the attack in various places by Bruce Arena for the purpose of getting him into the Starting XI has shown that his soft first touch, his changes of direction and speed, his shooting, his heading, and his overall athleticism are for real.
Gyasi Zardes is an exciting player, and his flair and aggressive play are effective.
Zardes has started the last 13 games for the Los Angeles Galaxy, and he has already taken some 59 shots this season. Frequently, Zardes is played out wide as opposed to playing as a first striker, and the fact that Bruce Arena will make space for him somewhere in the attack just to get him into the starting line-up is a testament to Zardes’ skill.
As has been quoted many times, Bruce Arena once said that, “Clint Dempsey tries sh*t,” and this shows somewhat how Arena values players who are willing to take risks to try to score or unlock defenses.
Arena clearly values Zardes as a player, and he makes a point of playing him.
Zardes is a freak of nature with an excellent physique, which he combines with his technical skill-level and fearlessness to aggressively attack opposing defenders and storm the penalty box.
With his soft first touch, his two-footed skill, his heading ability, his shooting, and his ability to take defenders off the dribble, Zardes is a player who should be allowed to take a lot of shots on goal, even if many of them sail over or wide.
If a striker has the skill and athleticism to get into scoring positions and threaten the goal, then that striker should be allowed to miss shots and make mistakes as part of the process of refining the technical ability of a first striker with incredible size and athleticism.
Gyasi Zardes plays with Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, who can be trusted to give the young striker tips on the finer points of breaking down defenses, combining with his teammates, and besting goalkeepers, but it’s clear that Arena is allowing Zardes the freedom to aggressively attack defenses and the goal as part of the process of smoothing out his technical ability and attacking.
The most important thing about Gyasi Zardes is that all of the physical gifts and skills are accompanied by something that cannot be taught: the fire that burns on the inside, which fuels his fearless attacking and aggressiveness.
For all of the talk of Zardes’ size and athleticism, his excellent two-footed technical ability shouldn’t be overlooked. This is a first striker who is not only a fantastic athlete, but a fantastic talent as well.
The United States has many new strikers who people are overly critical of, but Zardes is a fantastic athlete and skilled striker who doesn’t need an invitation to attack. He’s only going to get better, and playing for the United States Men’s National Team is very likely.
Keep your eye on Gyasi Zardes.