April 23, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Los Angeles Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. - The starts and appearances are coming for Jack McBean.
The 18-year-old Homegrown forward has started four of the club's six regular season games for the LA Galaxy, including a 68 minute shift in the club' 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City, and he appears to be settling into a role as one of head coach Bruce Arena's first choice forwards.
Across all competitions, McBean has made a total of nine appearances with four starts while tallying two goals and one assist. The appearances have provided a major confidence boost for the teenager striker because after all, there aren't too many 18-year-olds starting for MLS sides.
"It's always good to be out there playing with the first team, it's good for my confidence and my game," McBean told reporters. "It's good to get some minutes after a couple years of not really getting a lot with the first team. "We have really good coaches who have developed my game in a positive way so [Homegrown forwards] Jose [Villarreal] and myself have gotten a lot of opportunities so far."
Soon though, McBean knows that he'll have to translate those minutes into goals if he is to remain on the field, but that doesn't mean that he isn't making an impact up top.
"He was good, he was a handful," McBean's strike partner Robbie Keane told reporters following the Galaxy's 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night. "I told him to stay up high and try to be sort of a wall if you like and try to be a nuisance of himself and make it hard for them. To be fair to him, he did that."
Where McBean does seem to be maturing at a rapid rate is at becoming a "nuisance" as Keane put it, particularly when it comes to drawing fouls.ÃÂ Against Sporting, McBean won four tackles, each coming inside Kansas City half of the field, while also drawing four fouls from Sporting defenders.
"I'm just getting in the right positions from the start," said McBean. "[I'm] getting my body in front of the guys so that they have to go through me."
But now, the most important thing for the burly teenage striker will be translating that workrate and tenacity and turning it into goals. He had numerous opportunities to do just that against Sporting as his speed and physicality proved to be a handful for center back AurÃ©lien Collin. As the Galaxy midfield began to pressure and overwhelm their counterparts, the chances opened up for McBean who had several looks at goal.
The clearest chance came in the 17th minute when a counter attack led to a McBean breakaway that saw the youngster barrel towards goal alone before he stopped short and saw his shot blocked by Collin. Leading to the question, how does he correct this?
"I just have to pick my head up a little bit earlier and see the right pass. I still have a lot of work to do, but it's always good to get out there," said McBean. "I just need to see [the opportunity] earlier, especially the chance on the left side in the first half, there's two guys in the box and one defender and I hit it right at the defender so it's going to come through games and experiences."
As McBean's growth continues, the chances and minutes will continue to come for the youngster, but Arena is the first to admit that his maturity is an ongoing process.
"He's still a young player at 18-years-old and I thought that he gave us a solid performance [against Sporting]," said Arena. "It gets better after each game."