It was a great story, local kid makes good, gets to play for his hometown team and help them raise the sports ultimate prize. The potential for long term success and perhaps a day when the kid would be the leader on the team was all there, it was supposed to last and get better every year.
Unfortunately it didn’t last, injuries, inactivity, and poor play made the kid expendable. His home team sent him away, but like Shakespeare’s Julius Cesar I come not to bury Gyasi Zardes, but to praise him.
When the LA Galaxy traded Gyasi Zardes along with allocation money to the Columbus Crew for Ola Kamara, more than a few Galaxy fans were cheering the move. Not just because Kamara is proven goal scoring forward, but partly over the bitterness of Zardes’ diminishing potential.
Zardes could probably be a poster child for the Homegrown Grown Talent program, it is a rule that MLS devised to allow teams to sign local talent directly to the team roster without the use of the MLS Superdraft.
He was a local boy from Hawthorne, CA played in the Galaxy Development Academy before going to college at Cal-State Bakersfield. After an excellent college career signed with the Galaxy the only team he would ever know.
In 134 appearances with the club, Zardes scored 34 goals including the opening goal of the 2014 MLS Cup, the Galaxy would win their fifth MLS Cup that day thanks in part to Zardes. It was also the peak of Zardes’ talent, in 2014 Zardes scored 19 goals across all competitions.
131 appearances. 34 goals. 1 @MLS Cup.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) January 20, 2018
Since that 2014 season Zardes only scored 17 goals with each year’s total getting worse, the 26-year-old was often injured as well. In 2014 he played in 44 games across all competitions, since then he has only played in 68 with a career low 12 games played in 2017.
With his production diminishing, it made him expendable. The fact that the Galaxy were willing to include $400,000 dollars of allocation money in the trade says as much about Kamara’s talent and the faith the team lost in Zardes.
Despite it all he was a credit to his team not just on the field but off the field as well. Team President Chris Klein said as much when discussing the trade.
“The service that Gyasi has given to this club during his time here, he’s one of ours,” Klein said of Zardes, whose attitude and community work made him one of the team’s most popular players. “To part ways with him is sad. But it is part of what we do.
Gyasi Zardes won’t be with Galaxy but he should remembered more for his positive contributions on and off the field. As a member of the 2014 MLS Cup winning team he should be honored for bringing the fifth trophy to Stub Hub Center. Remember him as he was and not what he became.