Pedro Gallese: Can The Peruvian Become One Of The League's Top Goalkeepers?
Updated: Aug 16
*Photo Credit Golperu.pe
There were more than a few raised eyebrows when rumours linking Orlando City with a move for Peru's first choice stopper. The former Atletico Mineiro goal keeper has joined the Lions on a permanent deal (TAM). And it's been a long-time coming. Gallese's acquisition was arguably one of the worst kept secrets in MLS this off-season, and certainly one of the most notable.
Since their inception in MLS, the goalkeeping position has become something of a poisoned chalice. 9 different goalkeepers have taken up their position between the sticks since 2015. Joe Bendik was by far the most 'succesful', racking up 92 appearances and conceding 170 (hence the quotation marks). It's worth noting these statistics may be a little harsh, during 2017 and 2018 in particular Bendik was easily the busiest keeper in MLS. He showed some pretty impressive form in those 2 years, which eventually led to him earning a call up to the USMNT. There are also a number of other notable names on that 9 strong list of Orlando City goalkeeping greats. OK, great is perhaps to strong of a word. Average? Slightly above average for some? Yeah, that sounds a bit better. That's not to say the likes of Tally Hall and Adam Grinwis haven't given us some great memories. The running of the wall almost, almost reduced me to tears.
At risk of sounding like a 30 something Englishman dreaming wistfully of a a better time, the move to bring in Gallese is up there with the acquisition of Nani. Make no mistake, at this level Gallese is a top keeper. His biggest strength is his shot stopping ability, which when combined with his excellent decision making in pressure situations make him a formidable opponent in one v one situations. These are attributes the club has sorely missed in it's goalkeeper's. The much maligned Brian Rowe did a steady job last season. It's no secret that the former Whitecaps stopper isn't everyone's favourite player, but he is a dependable shot stopper who has reasonable command of his area. He is a good number 2, but for me he isn't a starting calibre keeper, if you have serious aspirations of going deep in the post season.
Gallese is a goalkeeper who has plied his trade at the highest level. He was the starting goal keeper for a Peruvian team (alongside Yoshi Yotun) who impressed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He is someone who will inspire confidence in the back line. He is confident and assertive, and boasts some impressive stars across his career to date. He began his professional career at Unversidad San Martin in his native Peru, turning out 49 times whilst also having a 16 game loan spell in 2009at Atletico Minero (not the Brazilian club of the very similar name-bonus points if you spot the difference). He then moved on to Juan Aurich in 2014 before earning a move to the now defunct C.D. Veracruz in Liga MX, turning out 51 times for Los Escualos.
In 2019 he averaged a respectable 3 saves per game, conceding 1.6 goals a game across his 25 starts for Alianza Lima. He also saved 1 penalty from the 7 he faced.
If you look at any successful side in soccer, they all have a strong spine. And this is something I have highlighted as being a necessity for Orlando City in the past. All too often Orlando have gotten themselves into winning positions, only to concede a goal late on. And it has proven costly on far too many occasions. The Lions boasted the most improved defence last season, conceding 52 goals. A marked improvement on the 74 they shipped the season before. Swedish defender Robin Jansson proved to be a particularly astute acquisition last season, and Antonio Carlos promises to be an equally astute signing. With a spine of Gallese, Carlos, Jansson, Mendez and Urso the lions look a lot stronger through the middle.