By Ivan Yeo
The moment finally arrived for Pele Van Anholt.
The LA Galaxy finally got the chance to slot in one of its new faces into its backline on Saturday night. Van Anholt played in his first game in a Galaxy shirt and went 70 minutes. Van Anholt did have a little rust to shake off initially, but nevertheless, he turned in a solid 70 minutes and was key to neutralizing Seattle’s attack in a scoreless draw.
“It has been a long time since I’ve played for a club, but I’m happy to make my debut for the Galaxy,” Van Anholt said. “I’m a little bit tired. I could have been better but for my first time it was OK.”
Van Anholt was signed by the Galaxy on July 12 after a lengthy career in the Dutch Eredivisie. The Galaxy signed Van Anholt in an effort to shore up a backline that had been plagued by a combination of injuries and poor play. The Galaxy chose to hold Van Anholt out of its first two home matches and apparently did not want his debut to be on the road on turf, which is what would’ve happened had Van Anholt played against New England on July 22.
“When I arrived I wasn’t fit enough to play,” Van Anholt said. “For me it was not a problem to stay on the bench, but after two or three weeks of course I want to play.”
However on Saturday night, there was Van Anholt finally apart of the LA backline. Van Anholt’s positioning was good and He himself had several key defensive plays in the second half. The first was in the 57th minute, when he went to ground to stop a Clint Dempsey shot near the penalty area, then five minutes later, Van Anholt recovered just in time to punt a ball high in the air after initially misplaying it, which could’ve resulted in a dangerous counterattack for Seattle.
“I thought he did alright considering his training time,” Schmid said. “I know our fitness coach, wasn’t sure he’d get much beyond 45 but he got a good 70 minutes in.
The Galaxy defense has certainly had its issues this season, but now, things may finally be coming back into place. Ashley Cole has been a rock solid presence at the left back spot, as has Jelle Van Damme at center back. Daniel Steres is back from injury and now with Van Anholt at right back and the return of Sigi Schmid as head coach, the Galaxy backline will certainly look to redeem themselves in the second half of the season.