BY ADAM SERRANO
Tristan Bowen has waited for this moment.
Being the league's first academy signing in 2007, he has worked tirelessly to be ready to see the field. After years of preparation, it appears that his chance has finally arrived.
The 19-year-old forward has seen considerable time on the pitch for the Los Angeles Galaxy since the departure of Edson Buddle. In that time, Bowen has earned two starts and scored his first two professional goals.
In the 87th minute of the Galaxy's 2-0 victory at Columbus last week, the forward's scored the first MLS goal of his fledgling career. Showing maturity and skill beyond his years, Bowen looks poised to break through.
"The difference between this season and those before it is that I know what to expect day in and day out and my job is a bit more clarified," said Bowen. "I've spent a lot of time preparing and looking at a lot of game tape to see what I've been doing so that I can improve in every facet of my game."
In addition to Bowen, a host of characters have filled in for the Galaxy's litany of player absences due to injury and international duty. Although many have expected the club to experience a slump without Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle, the Galaxy has continued its undefeated run. Players like rookie Michael Stephens and veteran Mike Magee have allowed head coach Bruce Arena to have complete confidence in his squad. With so many quality players on the roster, Bowen knows that each training session is a battle.
"We have a lot of competitiveness between guys, we all come to training everyday and every guy is working hard," said Bowen."You have to work hard in order to get a shot on this team."
That sense of competitiveness is attributed to the additions under head coach Bruce Arena who has sought to create depth at each position. Bowen, who was signed during the tenure of Frank Yallop has flourished when he has gotten his turn in the Galaxy rotation. Arena admits that Bowen has matured immensely from the rookie that he inherited when he took over the Galaxy job.
"He does the little things a little bit better now, he's better at holding up the ball and can deal with the physicality of the game much better." said Arena. "He's still a young and inexperienced player, but he's certainly worked hard to get on the field and I really think that you see some of the qualities that make him very good."
Bowen attributes much of his form this season to the success of Edson Buddle. Having arrived together in 2007, the 19-year-old has sought to emulate Buddle both on and off the field. The young striker admits that Buddle's mercurial rise this season has given him the motivation to take advantage of his current opportunity.
"I've been following him closely over these few years because he's been coming out early in the morning and working hard so I've just tried to cling myself to him," said Bowen. "His performance is definitely a motivator because it shows that if you work hard at the end of the day then your results will come."
Bowen's success has gained him the praise of many of his fellow attackers. Magee, another player who has stepped up due to the Galaxy's recent absences speaks highly of what the young forward has brought to the club since he has seen the field. The pair have worked well together over the past several weeks providing an assists on goals.
"He started preseason really well and I think that he had hoped that he would see a lot more time on the field this season," said Magee. "With the depth that we have on this team he had to wait for his moment and when he got his opportunity, he has taken full advantage of it and won us a couple of games with his play."
The forward will hope to continue his impressive run of form on Saturday as the Galaxy take on the Houston Dynamo. The Galaxy have already defeated the Dynamo once this season in a 2-0 victory at Robertson stadium. Bowen was an unused sub during the victory in Houston, but thanks to his recent success, he should play a considerably larger role on Saturday
"Houston's a good team and I will need to continue to do what I've been doing and learning from my mistakes for us to be successful," said Bowen. "I just need to continue to come out to practice working hard and continue to look at film so that I can correct anything and I will be just fine."