In 2021, Jonathan Bond debuted with the LA Galaxy with seven wins in the club’s first 10 games.
At the halfway point in the season, Bond started in each of Galaxy’s 17 games. Back then, Galaxy sat on 31 points. Additionally, that was without the extended absence of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. The Mexican international missed seven of those first 17 games with a calf injury.
Perhaps Chicharito’s absence contributed to a slump in the second half of the season. Despite a strong standing at the turn, LA Galaxy rattled off a brutal last 17 games. Just three wins ensued with the eight draws. Therefore, Galaxy lost six games in the second half of the season. The worst run of form came from August 17 to October 3. A nine-game winless run shot LA Galaxy down the table.
Jonathan Bond spoke with World Soccer Talk about his time with LA Galaxy. He said last season they hit runs of form. The stretch throughout September exemplified the poor form of the defending and his goalkeeping.
“I felt like we went through different stages collectively last season. Defensively, I felt we were pretty poor throughout the season. It’s not on one person or a back line thing or anything like that, it was just defending as a team.”
Individually, Bond had solid statistics. His 72.7 shots saved percentage was good for 12th in MLS. He finished third in total saves while also finishing third in total shots against. Even then, Bond tries to not focus on the stats itself.
“Stats are big in the U.S. here, but I do not really like to look at them too much. But I felt like I had a strong season.”
Quick acclamation to the league helped, but the standards are high in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Bond with LA Galaxy
Despite Major League Soccer’s predispositions from the outside of a retirement league, Bond says intensity prevails. Of course, he did not realize that coming over from England ahead of the 2021 season.
“I didn’t know what I was walking into. I didn’t know what kind of level it was going to be or what the intensity was going to be.”
He says the Latin style of play differs from his time with Watford, Peterborough United or Reading.
In English soccer, particularly with the Championship or League One, results and immediacy put increased pressure on players and coaches.
“In England, it’s very short-term thinking. Everyone is under so much pressure with the threat of losing their jobs and relegation. You end up getting less long-term play. You do not have as much time as a young player to prove yourself.”
Stateside, young players have more opportunity to prove themselves. Consequently, Jonathan Bond took the opportunity with LA Galaxy when the club expressed interest. It also helped that he saw it is a possibility for years. The fact that his mother is from Seattle and he had the American passport smoothed the transition.
While switching countries is one thing, the English goalkeeper joined a team that, comparatively, is historically successful.
One thing that allowed Bond to stay grounded and fit in was the fans and the general atmosphere in Los Angeles. Bond went from living just outside of London to the pristine conditions of America’s second-most populated city.
“Living here, with the sun, the beaches, the mountains, I honestly feel very content here.”
The one thing he does miss is his family. However, the fans allowed him to gel into American culture seamlessly.
“I want to repay all that goodwill that everyone has shown me over the past year.”
Perhaps that goodwill comes from his performances. Even though the club struggled towards the end of the season, he still built up a healthy does of confidence early on.
Something unmeasurable, confidence is key for goalies. Notable names such as David de Gea or Iker Casillas make one mistake that affects their confidence. Then, for games on end, they look like shadows of themselves.
“Some people seem to naturally have a lot more [confidence] than others. Confidence can be a fragile thing at times. It was important for me to get off to a strong start last season to win the trust of the fans and my teammates.”
Entering the 2022 season
That strong start may seem like a distant memory now. Yet, with the 2022 MLS season kicking off in late February, Bond is looking for a similar start to the season.
Training camp is underway with the LA Galaxy players getting reacclimated to their teammates and conditioning.
“We’re a lot further ahead than where we were at the same point last season.”
That seems to be good news. Considering the start Galaxy got off to a season ago, that should be encouraging news for supporters.
Without the need for meeting and greeting his teammates, Jonathan Bond can focus on things he wants to improve upon before the season starts. One of those things is conditioning and staying consistent. At times last season, the goalkeeper felt like he was holding back a little bit due to his increased usage compared to the earlier parts of his career. After all, Bond started 31 of 34 games a season ago. Even as a goalie, that can pile up.
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Technically, he is also working on his rebounds. With an average goals-against-per-game, he attributes some of the concessions to deflections and ricochets off the goalie. Working with goalkeeper coach and MLS legend Kevin Hartman, Bond wants to keep the game more in his control. Another part of that is minimizing errors.
“Within a game, how many unforced errors are we making? How many defensive mistakes are we making? If we can minimize those, it gives us a higher chance of winning games.”
Surely, these kind of changes are not overnight fixes. Rather, they require extensive work on the training pitch. Fortunately for LA Galaxy, there is a great example to learn from at the club.
Developing the squad
Chicharito is LA Galaxy’s designated player, meaning he gets special contract exemptions that go outside of MLS’s salary cap. Originally, Bond thought these players would be the players with the biggest egos. Javier Hernandez contradicted that stereotype.
“What I found was that [Chicharito] has the smallest ego out of everyone. He works the hardest. He finishes his training at the club then goes home and carries on training. His work rate and work ethic is crazy.”
Remember, Chicharito picked up an injury during the 2021 MLS season. His goalkeeper remains confident that, without the injury, he would have finished as the top scorer in the league.
The on- and off-field performances serve as a great example for a relatively young squad. Rather than just breezing along, the Mexican international understands the importance and intensity of the league.
“We have a very young squad. It’s important for them to see a guy who has played for Manchester United, played for Real Madrid, played in the Champions League and a Mexican international acting and behaving in that way.”
In 2022, Chicharito at the top and Jonathan Bond at the back could serve as cornerstones with LA Galaxy.
The expectations are, unsurprisingly, high for the club entering the season.
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