The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Carl Robinson era may be over in Vancouver, but the disaster that is the Whitecaps defence has very much been left behind.
Three more goals were given up in a loss at LA Galaxy on Saturday night, with the ‘Caps not so much down and out in Beverley Hills, but Carson, as the 3-0 defeat finally put paid to their already fast fading playoff hopes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic ran the show, grabbing a brace and being brought down in the box for LA’s third, as the ‘Caps had no answer to a resurgent Galaxy side, hardly testing one of the few sides with a defence even worse than their own.
Craig Dalrymple made three changes to the team that lost to Dallas last weekend in his first match in charge of the ‘Caps, with Yordy Reyna and Brett Levis back home injured, and Cristian Techera overlooked for Brek Shea.
Would Carl Robinson’s dismissal get a reaction from the players and would it see a Whitecaps side with a new impetus or just be the same old, same old? There were a lot of questions waiting to be answered for ‘Caps fans, but one of the key ones would be which teams’ awful defences would actually have a good showing in this one, or was that simply not possible from either side?
Well we got Vancouver’s answer to that point just three minutes in, when Marcel De Jong clumsily brought down Romain Alessandrini in just the third minute, terribly misjudging his timing for a lazy challenge in the box.
Ibrahimovic stepped up to slot home his 19th of the season, and the fat lady in the corner began clearing her voice for the Whitecaps already sparse playoff chances.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) September 30, 2018
The Swede nearly made it two for LA in the 13th minute, with a rocket of a free kick that just flew past the postage stamp corner.
Kei Kamara had a speculative long range dipper in the 29th minute, which David Bingham tipped over, but that was pretty much the closest the Whitecaps came in the half.
In fact neither side really mustered much for the remainder of the first half in what had become more huff than puff, and a pretty lacklustre affair.
Both teams started the second half with end to end stuff, with Emmanuel Boateng played in in the 51st minute, but he fired wide.
Five minutes later and Ibrahimovic flashed a header inches past the left post, as LA looked to kill the game off.
And in the 58th minute they did just that, and this time Ibrahimovic made no mistake, dropping a shoulder to fool Ghazal, making space for himself to fire one straight down the middle and past Marinovic.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) September 30, 2018
It was one the ‘Caps keeper should have done better with. Yes, it had some power, but it was straight down his throat.
The ‘Caps kept pushing though and Alphonso Davies went on a great run, and showed nice footwork, setting up Kamara in the 68th minute, who fired a low one straight at Bingham from just inside the box.
If there was any lingering hope for the Whitecaps, it was snuffed out in the 76th minute from yet another defensive disaster, this one coming from Doneil Henry, who brought down Ibrahimovic in the box to give away a second penalty on the night.
Everyone was expecting Ibrahimovic to step up and take it to grab his hat-trick, but he left it to Alessandrini, who finished with aplomb into the postage stamp corner.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) September 30, 2018
And that was all she wrote. Another defeat for Vancouver, brought about by poor defensive play and individual errors. Last week Carl Robinson said it was “same again” after the defeat to Dallas. He may have gone, but those sentiments most certainly remain.
The win keeps LA in the playoff mix, remaining in 7th but moving to within one point of Real Salt Lake, who are occupying the sixth and final postseason spot in the West ahead of their match at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
The Whitecaps are still mathematically in it with four games to go, but it would take a remarkable run of results from both them and those around them to get them back into the postseason.
I’m ready for the season to end, but instead we’re going to have what will feel like a long drawn out month of October.
FINAL SCORE: Los Angeles Galaxy 3 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
LOS ANGELES: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Dave Romney, Ashley Cole; Jonathan Dos Santos (Perry Kitchen 84), Emmanuel Boateng (Servando Carrasco 80), Sebastian Lletget, Ola Kamara, Romain Alessandrini (Jorgen Skjelvik 88); Zlatan Ibrahimovic [Subs Not Used: Justin vom Steeg, Michael Ciani, Baggio Husidic, Ariel Lassiter]
VANCOUVER: Stefan Marinovic; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Doneil Henry, Marcel De Jong; Aly Ghazal (Jordon Mutch 80), Alphonso Davies, Russell Teibert, Nicolas Mezquida (Felipe 62), Brek Shea (Cristian Techera 62); Kei Kamara [Subs Not Used: Brian Rowe, Sean Franklin, Jose Aja, Erik Hurtado]
On tonight’s game:
“Not an easy week for the team but the challenge was there ahead for them in terms of getting themselves back on track and focused on the task at hand and to be honest they had every reason to lie down tonight and lie down and give in especially after conceding two minutes in with a penalty, which it was a penalty. It was an unfortunate, lazy challenge in the box and then there is a reason they are thinking ‘are they going to lie down or are they going to fight?’ and they fought. I think from 15 minutes on we were in the game. I think we out-chanced them 14 to 11, we out-chanced them on shots on goal, I think for possession stats I bet from 20 minutes on we out possessed them as well so we are really happy with the response. Obviously Zlatan [Ibrahimović] scores a Zlatan goal and then a third penalty, again another reason to lie down but they didn’t, they got stronger, so really proud of the effort.”
On the team’s performance:
“They wanted to prove they have belief and confidence, determination and grit, and they showed it. What they did tonight was a credit to them. I just tried to mold them together and get them on track. I am pleased for the boys.”
Did he think the second penalty decision was correct?
“My initial thought was know, but the lads are telling me it was clear.”
Still mathematically alive, but tough task ahead:
“It is a tough road, but we’ll put in four strong performances. I can guarantee that. They want to do that, they’re committed to that. We’ll count the points at the end of the season and see where we’re at.”
On the team’s coaching situation:
“We are professionals, it is not just about us doing our jobs but this is a sport that we love, we all want to play and we wait for game days, Saturdays, so it didn’t matter what happened earlier in the week. Yes, it is something we are thinking about and it was in our heads before but I am sure when that whistle blew the kind of atmosphere that it was out there today, everybody wanted to play. Yeah we went down early but we didn’t throw in the towel, you saw how we played and it was a tough one but I think mentally we were there we were ready to do it.”
On tonight’s game:
“It was a difficult match because I felt for the majority of the game we played very well but we can’t expect to come to LA’s house and give up two PKs and then expect to win the game. Those are two crucial moments of the game and they were clinical when they needed to be and they won the game.”
On the team’s performance:
“That first goal going in in the first three minutes is not an ideal start for us at all, it’s kind of like a nightmare but we picked ourselves right back up and for the majority of the first half we were the better side and we were full of confidence coming in from the first half and going out in the second and then again Zlatan [Ibrahimović] shows why he is Zlatan and he scores a great goal and then we give up another PK. I think the important thing we need to take from this match is that going through adversity not once or twice, but three times, and we stuck with it and saw the game out.”
On what the team is doing differently to win games:
“I don’t want to compare. I think it’s unfair. I think they’ve been focused, and they’ve played with great determination, so I think it’s pretty simple.”
On the defense’s performance:
“I think we’re getting pressure on the ball; which makes it easier for the other people to see where the ball is going. I think Dave Romney and Daniel Steres have played very well. We did know that today Vancouver was going to come in, and they have a way they can play sometimes, and they did that when they passed the ball to Kei [Kamara]. We just asked for Dave [Romney] or Daniel [Steres] to be close to him to make his run for the ball a little bit difficult. But, I do think that the pressure we’ve been putting to the ball has been good, and I think it’s been a collective effort which has been great.”
On Zlatan Ibrahimović’s two goals:
“It was very nice of him to do that. It was very good. I thought his hold up play tonight was excellent. He brought people into play. His second goal was good to watch. His free kick; I wish it would’ve gone in too, because it was such a great hit. Overall, I think in playing the game, or playing long, he’s a great target player as well; he’s got a lot of facets to his game that we’re seeing, live, which is nice. He’s been great for us.”
On Jonathan dos Santos’s recent performance:
“I don’t think it’s just the last two games. I think when he’s healthy, he’s a very important player for us. Obviously, we’re dropping him a little bit deeper now with the way that we’re playing. I think him and Sebastian [Lletget] have a good understanding, and a great partnership together. Jonathan is getting a lot of the ball, and he doesn’t really waste the possession. And, if he does, he’s one of the first guys to be responsible to win the ball back. He was a bit of the tempo setter for us tonight. I thought the way he played, even leading up to the first goal, was good to watch; interactive with players, passing the ball, and moving, and a lot of that revolved around Jonathan [dos Santos], so obviously we know he’s an important player to the team.”
On Romain Alessandrini taking the second penalty:
“Romain [Alessandrini] came and he asked and I give. Like I said when I came the first day I’m not here to do a one man show. I’m here for the team to help them and we need all the players we have. If Romain feels confident of course he should take it. I think that was more important than my hat trick, so we need all the players we have especially now in this moment. I need him as well as he needs me and the team needs us and we need the team. It’s the way we play, it’s the collective game. And he scored, more importantly.”
On the mentality of the team:
“The club changed the coach and they wanted a reaction and I think they got a reaction. First game, I think we did good, we got sloppy and we lost. But the second game we won comfortable 3-0 and today we won 3-0 and we are doing it well. We are not doing it by luck. As I said here last time, we are a threat for every team if we play like this. I bet you whatever you want. Nobody wants to get us in the playoffs because we are dangerous if we do what we do like we do it now. Just hope for them that we don’t make it to the playoffs.”
On tonight’s opposition:
“Physically, they are physically strong. This is the first time I see since I was in England in Premier League that I see many guys big like that. It was a physical team. I think they did good, but we did it better because we were playing, we wanted, we were creative, we were in the movement and we scored. That’s the way the game goes. If you don’t score, you don’t win. I don’t think they had pretty good chances if I remember correctly.”
On the defence:
“If you don’t concede a goal it means they did a fantastic job. It’s two games now that they don’t concede goals, but for me defense is the whole team, not only the defenders. If we name the defenders, they’re doing a great job and if you keep going like this you get more confident and you believe more in what you are doing. They are playing good. They are playing with stability and giving the game possession to the rest of the team and the midfield move around. They like to have the ball.”
On his celebration:
“That was for my friend because he’s too stressed over the situation. I say relax. As long as I’m here you don’t need to stress, so that was for him.”
On Whitecaps’ winger Alphonso Davies going to Bayern Munich:
“I mean we were dominating today. He’s a good player. I mean don’t know so much because I’m still new in the game here in MLS, so if he goes to Bayern he is a good player. They don’t choose bad players and especially young players. In a club like Bayern he will learn a lot. If they saw something, they saw something big because they don’t get anyone just like that. I just hope he’s ready when he comes there because when he comes there he will be lonely and the competition will be big, so he needs to be mentally strong when he sees the big players not to show too much respect. You go in there for a reason because you are part of the team and it’s up to him to make the rest, so I see the future is bright.”
On the Swedish fans in the crowd:
“I saw a lot of yellow shirts and normally it’s the stewards like you say, but this time it was the fans. It was nice to see we have a big support, we Swedes and I’m proud. I’m Swedish and wherever I go I represent Sweden, so like I said I put Sweden on the map. Them coming to LA is something amazing. I’m happy I could give back to them because I don’t think they are here every week because it’s not a short cut to come here. I just thanks for the support and I think they are happy with the performance also. I think it’s a special night every time I play here, so that becomes a Swedish night.”
On how he’s feeling at this point in the season:
“I feel good. In the end of the season, normally you get a little bit tired, but I feel good. I feel in shape. Maybe the performance talks for itself, but I feel good. I get a lot of help from my teammates. I try to be creative, I try to be unpredictable and I try to do what I’m best, play my game and help the team. When you get an outcome like today, it’s a good night. It’s something that we worked the whole week for. I like to be involved in the game even if I’m not 20 anymore when I was very active, but I think the older I get the more intelligent I get and I adjust my game after what I am able to do. I’m not trying to complicate. I did some wrong passes today, but that’s just because my knee gets a little bit tired and I get a little bit sloppy, but normally I don’t miss those passes.”
On the past two games and the team’s confidence:
“Yeah, I think like I mentioned when I spoke to you last week, after our last performance we knew we could play better. Our style was changed already the time Dom [Kinnear] has been here and I think again, it showed today. We keep the ball very well, we play, we create chances. Like I mentioned again, this is the LA that I know.”
On the team’s philosophy and how it’s making the difference:
“Yeah, I think if you look back at the past games and the kind of bad results we had. For me it was due down to not keeping the ball, keep panicking, playing it back to the goalie, he was hitting long balls and we were not winning second balls. But now we are keeping the ball very well. We are very dangerous on counterattacks, and we have players playing with confidence, which is a big change from how we’ve been playing.”
On the second shutout and the difference in how the team is defending:
“I think we are just playing calm. I think like I mentioned, it all goes back to us panicking, hitting long balls, we weren’t winning the second balls and, we were kind of constantly defending. I think with the players we have now, with Jonathan [dos Santos] and Sebastian [Lletget] in there we are keeping the ball, we don’t have to hit the long balls. They’re making angles, making space, we are giving them the ball and we aren’t defending as much as we did before, which is a big factor of why we aren’t conceding any goals in the last two games.”
On the significance of the win tonight moving forward:
“Yeah I just think again for the confidence and for LA I think it was important to win today. I think Seattle won, so again we have to go again and try catching teams on top of us. We are confident after today’s performance and last week we are looking forward to a tough game against KC, but we are confident.”
On the difference of the team over the past two games:
“First, I think we changed the formation, so now we play 4-3-3 and now it’s easier defensively because everyone knows what they have to do. I think we run more for each other, we fight more for each other and everyone wants to get into the playoffs. Now we have to be focused. Tonight we showed a lot of things and we are very happy with the result. Now we just have to recover and move forward.”
On taking the second penalty:
“Usually, [Zlatan] Ibrahimović takes every penalty. For this one, I just asked him, ‘can I get this one?’ and he told me first, let me score a hat trick. I said ‘please’ and he said ‘okay go ahead.’ So, thank you for him and it was good for me to get a goal.”
Thoughts on the game:
“Vancouver is a good team, but we played very well. We came onto the field with a lot of expectations and we showed them that we play at home with a lot of [aggression]. When you go up 1-0 after two or three minutes it’s easier for us. After that we played good soccer and we have a lot quality in this team. We showed tonight that we can get to playoffs.”
On playoff chances:
“We know that we can get to the playoffs. It doesn’t depend on us because we have to follow the result on Salt Lake tomorrow, but if we win every game until the end of the season we will see what’s going to happen. We are confident.”
On personal enjoyment:
“When you come back out of your position it’s easy because I know what I have to do on the field when I play on the left or on the right side. Maybe since two or three weeks I give more for the team defensively. Obviously I miss something offensively because I’m a little bit tired. I’m happy to come back in this formation because we are more confident. The team played better.”
On scoring 10 goals this season:
“It means a lot because I came to this team for that, to score goals and give assists, so 10 goals and seven assists is not so bad. I have to continue like that and give more for the team.
On the mentality going into the week:
“I think with the two wins you are more confident and we have to believe because we know we can do it. We can do something great, so now we have to move forward and keep going.”
JONATHAN DOS SANTOS On how well the team is playing:
[Translated from Spanish]
On how well the team is playing:
“Very well, the team has changed its chip. We know we have to keep adding up points to be in the playoffs, every game the team looks more confident and more compact and I think that’s very important for the last three games that are left.”
On what has made the sudden difference:
“A little bit of everything. Like I’ve said, I think the mentality from the team. Dom [Kinnear] as well, who has done a great job with the team and we have to keep this same mentality. It’s great to be in this winning streak and we hope to continue with this confidence.”
On being back as a team:
“You can say that, but we still can’t celebrate just yet. We have to stay calm, with the tranquility we’ve had and keep working day to day which is the most important. Of course, Galaxy is there, we are there with the eagerness after not being in the playoffs after two years, and we hope to be there.”
On what has changed defensively:
“Well, like I’ve said it’s a little of everything. The players are committing themselves more and now that we have reached the end of the season we are eager to do well, something we haven’t done very well this season. We know we are defending a great club, the Galaxy deserves these games and we want the fans to enjoy them with us getting these wins and clean sheets, which I think is the important factor on winning these past games.”
On the play before you were subbed out:
“I was a little tired to be honest. I had a bit of cramping but it’s nothing serious and nothing to worry about. For the next training and game, I’ll be perfect god willing.”
On your level of play and on Tata Martino being a head coach candidate for the Mexican National Team:
“Well yes, like you’ve said, I feel like I’m gaining confidence. Yes, it’s also true that I haven’t been at my best these past few months. I’ve worked very hard but sometimes you just have these bad runs. At the end of the day it’s a team effort. Now thanks to the team and to everyone, every player looks better. I think Tata [Martino] is an excellent coach and if he arrives with the national team it’ll be a great option. I was with him for a year at Barcelona, I had the bad luck of injuring my knee during that time. However, I can tell you he’s a great coach and hopefully he’ll be an option.”
On what was more rewarding, the clean sheets or the wins:
“I think both, but I think maybe getting the clean sheets is the most important. At the end of the day that’s what wins you games because most games we score three or four goals and end up losing. Yes, I think keeping the clean sheets is the most rewarding.”
On his partnership with Sebastian Lletget:
“The absolute worst, Sebastian [Lletget] is very bad. No, but honestly I appreciate him a lot, he is a great player. Every time we play together we understand each other very well. He’s a player with great abilities and when I have him playing next to me, he makes it much easier. For me, apart from being a great friend outside of the pitch he’s a great and important player for the team.”