Coming away from LA with any points at all has been a hard ask for Vancouver Whitecaps over the years. They’ve played well in the past and come away with nothing, but on Saturday night they headed to the Stub Hub Center and looked the better team for large patches of the game, creating the better chances, but unable to take them against a pretty poor LA side.
The Whitecaps will feel they could, and should, and needed to, grab the win at the LA Galaxy, but in the end they’re heading homewards with a point after an entertaining 0-0 draw.
After a woeful run of results and form, it felt like a small victory, a moral one. The trouble with that right now of course is that the ‘Caps need a lot more than that. They need three points from most of their remaining matches to be sure of a spot in the playoffs.
For now, it’s something to build upon and it could end up being a very crucial point in the grand scheme of things come the end of October. Other results have gone the ‘Caps way once again and although they still sit ninth in the Western Conference standings, they’re only one point off the final playoff spot. Incredible stuff all things considered.
After a much better, and confidence boosting, win against Sporting KC on Tuesday night in Champions League action, Carl Robinson said he’d reward some of those performances. That saw Jordan Smith come in at right back, with Fraser Aird on the right wing, Russell Teibert in the DM role, and Erik Hurtado partnering Giles Barnes up front in another 4-4-2 formation.
Strangely though, there was no role for Tuesday’s two-goal hero, Cristian Techera, who had to settle for a place on the bench. Not sure what more you need to do to get a start in a woefully losing team, especially as his link up play with Hurtado was the key, but there you go.
As expected, LA pressed from kick off, but it was Vancouver who had the first chance and should have taken the lead in the 8th minute when Erik Hurtado’s downward header got too much of a bounce and crashed off the underside of the LA bar. The striker did well to get on the end of Giles Barnes’ fantastic cross, but he had to do better from a few yards out.
A bad miss, but a pleasing start none the less, with Vancouver not under siege and trying to take the game to their hosts.
It was the ‘Caps who were having the better half chances, and Barnes came close to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute, hitting a dipping free kick just over from 20 yards out.
LA finally forced David Ousted to make a save, with a long ball into the box that substitute Gyasi Zardes tried to do a little back header on but it was straight into the Dane’s arms.
Zardes had come on just past the half hour mark for the injured Steven Gerrard, and LA were forced to make another change before the break when Jelle Van Damme limped off.
Scoreless at the break, LA again had a couple of flourishes at the start of the half before Vancouver started to create the better chances, the best of which came on the hour mark when Hurtado sent a low ball into the back post but it was nudged away for a corner before Pedro Morales could bury it.
The ‘Caps got a let off in the 66th minute when an unmarked Alan Gordon headed over, but then it turned out he was so free as he was offside. At least that’s what we’ll tell ourselves.
There was another escape six minutes later when the ball broke to Gordon in the box and his outstretched leg curled it just past the left post.
LA kept pressing and had the ‘Caps were scrambling at times, but holding firm, with Ousted easily scooping up a Giovani Dos Santos shot in the 81st minute.
But that was to prove to be the last moment of danger at either end and Vancouver ended their four game losing streak to come away with what could be a hell of a valuable point if they can find some form in the coming weeks.
The draw may have ended the losing run, but it makes it seven matches now without a win, and despite the improvements, it’s still hard to see where that next one might be coming from.
The signs are there that there could be a good team waiting to break out of the shells of this Whitecaps side. For weeks the players have needed to play like their livelihoods depended upon it, because they do. Every player in the squad is playing for a contract here next season. So far, few have done anything to show they deserve one.
The performance in LA was a start. There was passion, there was fight, there was grit, and there was also some decent football on display. A number of players did themselves a lot of good tonight with their performance, but more on that another day.
There’s seven games left, the ‘Caps look to need a minimum of five wins from those matches to make the playoffs. It’s not impossible but it’s not been looking likely. But at least there was a spark in LA that gives some hope. They have to build on it and they have to take three points next Saturday at home to New York Red Bulls.
Anything less than three points won’t be anywhere near good enough.
FINAL SCORE: LA Galaxy 0 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
LOS ANGELES: Brian Rowe; Robbie Rogers, Leonardo, Jelle Van Damme (Daniel Steres 44), Ashley Cole; Nigel de Jong, Steven Gerrard (Gyasi Zardes 31) (Mike Magee 87), Sebastian Lletget, Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng; Alan Gordon [Subs Not Used: Dan Kennedy, A.J. DeLaGarza, Baggio Husidic, Jeff Larentowicz]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jordan Smith, Kendall Waston, David Edgar, Marcel de Jong; Fraser Aird (Cristian Techera 65), Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, Pedro Morales (Andrew Jacobson 90+2); Erik Hurtado, Giles Barnes (Nicolas Mezquida 80) [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Tim Parker, Masato Kudo, Blas Perez]
On the team playing well despite getting a goal:
“Football is pretty simple isn’t it. You’ve got to keep the ball out the back of your net and put it the back of the opposition’s net. We’ve done a very good job of keeping the ball out of our net and we weren’t able to take advantage of the chances that came our way in a very difficult place. If not for lack of effort, maybe a lack of quality. But I can’t fault the guys in that. I have faulted them this year because I don’t think they’ve given enough in certain games, but I can’t fault them today. I can’t, so I won’t.”
On how Erik Hurtado’s header didn’t go in the back of the net:
“As a player you don’t mean to do that and his performance overall I thought was absolutely top drawer. For a young player – he’s still in only his third year as a professional – putting himself in the right area is key. That’s what top players do. That’s what Robbie Keane seems to do every week. We’ve got to try and learn how to do that and when you’re in those areas you’ve got to take those chances. So I can’t fault his performance. Obviously he’ll be disappointed with no goal, but it’s not from a lack of effort from his performance because I thought him and every other player was top class.”
On ending the team’s losing streak:
“The league is very funny. It’s not to deflect. You talk to every manager in the league and they can be honest and open with you or they cannot be honest and open. And they can say things that might twist things up and throw out stats and all that. Listen, we’ve lost four games in a row and it’s not nice. It’s on us and no one else. Like I said, we’ll have more possession than teams and more shots, but you don’t pick up any points. Today was important for us. Probably no one gave us a chance to get anything from the game, but I firmly believed in the guys. We tried to be organized and disciplined, which we were. I thought we could catch certain areas, obviously we had a little bit of luck in the last 10-15 minutes of the game and obviously Bruce Arena picked up a number of injuries which he won’t be happy with. Maybe it was our night to get a point.”
On his header that hit the crossbar:
“I thought that it was going in. I headed it down it hit the ground I thought it was just going to go right into the goal but I headed it down too hard it hit off the crossbar and somehow rolled out for a goal kick.”
On breaking their losing streak:
“It is a good stepping stone to go forward for the rest of the season. Obviously we have to take it one game at a time but it’s good . We come to LA we are disappointed with the tie so I think that is good and we just have to move forward for our game next weekend.”
On the positives of tonight’s game:
“We got a point on the road in LA which is a hard thing to do.”
DAVID EDGAR (on TSN postgame)
On getting the draw:
“Disappointed not to get three points, but I thought the fight and the desire was there. We got a reaction from last week. Last week wasn’t good enough in terms of people putting bodies on the line and things like that. The majority of the team did that today. I thought that’s all you can ask for. It’s nice to get a clean sheet, especially as a defender and my first clean sheet at the club.”
On being on the same page defensively:
“Yeah, I think we were a tough unit to break down today. There was a game plan and I thought we had some good chances on the counter attack. Overall, in terms of chances, we probably outnumbered them, but it wasn’t to be. We didn’t get the finishing touch but it was nice to get the clean sheet.”
Does he see something in this team?:
“Definitely. I see that day in and day out in training. I saw it at the beginning of the season. It’s nice to get my first point on the board, on a personal note, and a clean sheet, but you could see it in the players the ability we have here. It’s about sticking together now. As we say in Canada, it’s gutcheck time in terms of the back end of the season.”
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
On how frustrating the 0-0 draw was to him:
“It’s not frustrating.”
On what he takes from the game:
“One-point game. That’s what I take from it. It’s not frustrating. Our guys gave a good effort. The played a good second half I thought.”
On if he has any concerns about the team’s six-game unbeaten streak:
“We’re probably going to fold the franchise.”
On if he has any injury updates on Jelle Van Damme or Steven Gerrard:
On the return of Robbie Rogers:
“It’s good to get him back; he’s a little rusty. If we had the opportunity, we maybe would have taken him out 70 minutes into the game, but burning two substitutions in the first half made that option really difficult. I think he did a good job hanging in there. He’s a little bit rusty, but it’s good to get him back.”
On the week of training ahead:
“The best thing to do is have a couple days off. It’s not the week of training, it’s the rest and recover really.”
On what changed in the second half:
“They obviously got tired and they were chasing the ball a lot. So we had a lot of the ball and just didn’t have the final product. We came close a couple times. That’s the tactical plan for every team to come in here pretty much. We’ve seen that now… probably since May or April. They’re very organized, they press us when we have goal kicks. They drop 10 players back in possession and look to counter and they almost got a goal off of our corner kick early in the game which would have made it real ugly. So we’ve got to be a bit sharper and the final product has to be a little bit better. The crossing is not good, the timing of our runs. And when you’ve got a shot, you’ve got to take it. We don’t shoot enough, but we’ve got to get a little bit better there. But we see the same thing, I think that’s our league. The league has become a league where, and rightfully so, every game is important. Teams are just trying to get a point. They tend to be very defensive in nature, very rarely do you see two teams going at it a little bit. Every point is sacred. They’re really hard fought games and they tend to have some defensive posture to it. So the demands on the attacking team is that you attack well and if you don’t, there’s a chance you’re going to not score a goal and we’ve probably seen that a number of times this year.”
On returning to action after his injury:
“I got real fortunate on Hurtado’s header that stayed out. Sometimes you’ll take a little luck. I think after that, kind of woke me up a little bit, it was able to set me back in and I felt normal after that.”
On Robbie Rogers’ first game back from injury:
“He looked great. He said he looked a little slow out there, but if that is slow, then I don’t know… He’s still looking fast out there. I thought he did a really good job. I don’t know what their plan was to give him the full 90 or not, but I think making those two subs in the first half and having Gyasi [Zardes] come off put the team in a bad situation, but he did a great job getting up and done the line. He had a good shift.”
On the team’s form going into the final part of the season:
“I think it’s good that we are able to get a shutout, defensively hold teams. I think we showed a lot of character tonight even though I don’t think we had the best chances going forward, we had a lot of possession in their final third but weren’t just quite able to break them down. Moving forward, I think it will come. We’ve gone through these kind of spells in the past and we’ll pick it up.”
On going through this form now instead of during the playoffs:
“If you’re going to go through this at all, it’s better to do it before too close to the end of the year. So if this is our little dry spell right now, we’re still getting points out of it, still getting shutouts, I think we’ll be okay going forward.”
On returning after coming back from injury:
“Pretty tired towards the end but I was really excited, especially the first half to be out there, even back in the locker room before the game with the guys. Just to be here in the stadium to play and to be a part of it. It’s tough to be in the gym every day and doing extra fitness and doing all that stuff but it really pays off. So today I thought it was a little bit rusty but I was happy with how much energy I had running forward and kind of combining with guys so I think from here moving forward I just have to work on my sharpness but I was happy, happy to finish 90 minutes.”
On tonight’s result:
“It was frustrating, we need to get three points at home. That needs to be our mission, that needs to be in our heads from the beginning and I thought we kind of lacked that killer instinct going forward especially, and I thought we were pretty good defensively. We kind of shut down a lot of their moments going forward but I thought when we won it we weren’t really finding that killer pass going forward. It was just slow, one guy, the next guy, and I thought if we could have maybe skipped a few guys and got at guys we could have been a little bit more dangerous.”
On not finishing chances on goal:
“Tonight we were trying I get crosses in and I think that’s their strength, they have these big guys in the box, it’s hard to beat them that way, so when it’s not working out you have to see that, you have to be smart as a soccer player and realize we need to do something else so it seemed like that was our only option, I would get forward or Ema [Boateng] would go down the line or [Sebastian Lletget] or [Ashley Cole] and we needed to combine more to the middle I think and flip guys because they have big guys in the box and they would win it and then they would kind of counter on us.”
On the injuries early in the game:
“It was tough, I thought the guys who came in really stepped up and it seemed like they kind of gave us a boost so it’s really a difficult position to be in, especially coming in the first half when you’re not expecting it so I thought Gyasi [Zardes] did really well in the first half and then I thought Mike [Magee] came on and did well and everyone else so it was great.”
On the result:
“It’s frustrating; we’re kind of stalled right now, can’t get anything going offensively. It’s a little bit frustrating; this feels like a loss, we need points. We’re at home and all you can do is look at some film and rally together; we can’t let this bring us down. At the end of the day it is a point, everything is going to be close at the end and we have to move forward and get ready for a tough game next weekend.”
On Vancouver’s defence:
“Obviously we didn’t score, but I thought they did a good job. Two big guys in the back were eating all of our crosses up; they did a good job defending the cross. You have to give them a little bit of credit, I think that we could be a little bit more dynamic and mix it up a little bit more.”
On the early injuries and how that impacted the game:
“It’s tough. It’s always tough. Having to make two subs early limits guys coming off the bench giving some extra energy and taking some guys out like me that haven’t played as many minutes, so it affects things but we push through and at the end of the day we got a point. Like I said, and we have to just take it and run with it.”
On the team’s injuries early in the game:
“Having two injuries in the first half is never great for any team because I think we are a team that depend on fresh legs in the last 15 minutes but we couldn’t get that today, it is what it is.”
On playing three games in seven days and how that affected the team today:
“I mean, personally I did, obviously I didn’t play much in the New York game but got two 90 minute games in the last two and it definitely weighs on the body but it’s a shame we didn’t get the win, I thought we deserved it.”
On being in the final third of the season:
“Obviously you want to start well but I think this is where we really have to push and we are doing our best and think we just have to give another 10 percent and maybe it will work out for us.”