USA’s Zardes looks for 2018 rebound

USA’s Gyasi Zardes (#9) is shown playing against El Salvador in a 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Photo: AFP Services)

CARSON, California -- Gyasi Zardes hopes the United States national team's January training camp rings in a more successful year on the field, especially with his club.

The midfielder endured a difficult 2017, battling injuries and struggling with two goals in 24 appearances as his LA Galaxy accumulated 32 points – level with D.C. United for the worst record in Major League Soccer.

“I'm really trying to have an amazing year this year,” said Zardes, who appeared in five matches during the USA’s run to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup title.  "I paid attention to my body during the offseason.  I had a lot of off time, so I utilized that time to make sure that every single injury that occurred in the past was taken care of."

Three years ago, Zardes was one of the younger players at his first camp.  Today – with 37 caps (and six goals) -- he is the most internationally experienced American at the National Training Center.  Of the 29 players participating, 15 have never pulled on the U.S. jersey in a senior international.

"I'm 26 and there are some young guys out here," Zardes remarked.  "When I first joined the national team, it was the other way around.  You had some guys in their 30's.  I'm going to push myself every single day.  Young guys have a lot of energy.  They're highly motivated, so that's going to help me."

Acting U.S. head coach Dave Sarachan, a former Galaxy assistant coach, expressed confidence in Zardes’ ability to bounce back, saying:  "He did have a tough year with injuries, but he's still at a good age.  He's a player that I still believe can play at this level.  It wasn't a hand-out.  He belongs in this group.”