Pedro Gallese is now officially an all-time Orlando City record holder. He has overtaken Joe Bendik’s club record of 13 clean sheets (in all competitions) in less than 44 games and pulled level with Bendik in regular-season shutouts, which has shown the importance of the Peruvian international to the Orlando City defense.
El Pulpo has proven to be one of the best MLS goalkeepers and provides his national team with the security of his talents. His communication and organization of his defense is integral to the shutouts, as one man cannot hold of an attack by himself. The continuity that Orlando has among its back line helps with providing a solid base to the side, both in and out of possession.
But what sets Gallese apart from many others is his ability at shot stopping. At 6-foot-3, he manages to make himself look even bigger when a forward is bearing down on goal.
In the previous match-up with Cincinnati there was hope he could have taken the record then, as the Ohio side had entered the match without having scored a goal on the season. But the Lions ended up on the wrong side of a 2-1 defeat, with Brandon Vazquez showing why he is keeping record signing Brenner out of the side.
What followed was a tough game on paper against the LA Galaxy, who themselves have been in good form in the opening stages of the season. With striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez up front and the likes of Douglas Costa and Kevin Cabral in the side, this was always going to require a solid team effort to get through.
Facundo Torres took the headlines with his goal, heading in from a cross from another Designated Player, Ercan Kara, to give Orlando the lead in the ninth minute.
The score remained the same for the rest of the game although the Galaxy controlled possession with 63% and a far greater shot count, with a 20-6 advantage. The issue for the Galaxy was composure, with only three shots actually on target, as well as the good defending from Orlando to limit the number of decent opportunities available.
Gallese can thank his defense for their part in his record-breaking game, Antonio Carlos especially proved to be a standout player.
The first shot he faced on target was a weak header from Rayan Raveloson. Gallese was positioned well and took the header straight into his arms. Even with more power, you would have put your money on Gallese not being troubled.
Chicharito tried to pull his side level with a shot on the turn from the edge of the box in the 14th minute. Some well-worked play ensured Hernandez had space in between Ruan and Antonio Carlos in the middle, though Gallese was once again well positioned to deal with the shot.
It was hit low to his left and Gallese got down well to block the shot, it bounced back up near Cabral, whose dummy had created the first opportunity. With the rebound falling behind him, Cabral attempted an audacious scorpion kick but Gallese was up already and was able to gather the ball.
The Peruvian goalkeeper showed his organizational skills once again on a free kick late in the first half. Setting his side up in a wall in front of the free kick, his teammates remained tight and compact, knowing that Costa would be looking for any gaps to appear.
Gallese was tested from range and inside the box throughout the game while the Galaxy tried to find a way back into the match. Even on those shots that went high or wide, Gallese was never left to watch them. He was always protecting his angles and prepared in case the shot was on target. He took his crosses well and showed good handling, and that’s what will provide defenders with confidence, knowing the goalkeeper can step off of his line and take control.
The Peruvian international saved from a tight angle in the 77th minute, where it would have been hard to know if Efraín Álvarez was crossing or shooting. Needing to position himself for dealing with either opportunity, Gallese managed to block and hold onto the ball while his side was under pressure. He prevented a dangerous rebound despite the pace Álvarez put on the ball.
It ended a thoroughly successful day for Gallese and Orlando, who got over the disappointment of the Cincinnati result with a well-earned three points in Los Angeles. Gallese is now the record holder for most clean sheets for the franchise and will no doubt go on to earn more.
He will, though, be a big loss for the game away against the Portland Timbers next weekend as he tries to help secure World Cup qualification with Peru in the CONMEBOL qualifiers.