Vancouver Whitecaps needed a statement game to answer their naysayers who feel they’ve been riding their luck. They got it, in a dominant performance against LA Galaxy at BC Place on Saturday evening.
Second half goals from Kekuta Manneh and Octavio Rivero did the damage, but it was a scoreline that flattered the defending MLS champs and shot the Whitecaps to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings.
We bring you our match report and full post game reaction from both locker rooms following Vancouver’s 2-0 win over LA.
REPORT (by Steve Pandher):
They didn’t leave it as late as most have come to expect, but Vancouver Whitecaps won their fourth straight beating the defending MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy 2-0. It was Kekuta Manneh who opened the scoring with his first while Octavio Rivero collected his fourth of the season and David Ousted earned his third cleansheet.
It was a dominating first half by the Whitecaps as they controlled the flow of the match and had the advantage in possession. Unfortunately they weren’t able to finish and the best opportunity came from Pedro Morales early on, who spun from his mark inside box but directed the ball right at the keeper.
The second half started more promising for the Galaxy with a little more possession and an attempt from distance by Juninho.
It was to be the Whitecaps who struck first in the 56th minute when Kekuta Manneh opened up his account for 2015 to give the Caps the lead. After collecting the ball, Morales made a perfect reverse pass into the path of Manneh who took on Meyer, turning him, before depositing the ball inside the near post.
The sellout crowd at B.C. Place only needed to wait another ten minutes to see their team double the lead as Octavio Rivero scored his fourth goal in five MLS starts.
After taking the ball from Rivero, Nicolas Mezquida made it to the byeline where he sent the ball into the six yard area. Jaime Penedo was able to get a hand on it but he sent it right to Rivero who had an easy finish from in close.
Despite being up by two and seemingly in full control, the Caps continued their attack and tried to get that third. The final ten minutes saw Hurtado, Mattocks and Morales make runs down the wing and attempt to completely kill off the game but found Penedo standing tall.
They didn’t need that goal as they closed out the Galaxy and ended the night at the top of the table of both the Western Conference and all of MLS. Vancouver will not have much time to enjoy this win as they return to B.C. Place for the their first midweek match against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday, looking to make it five straight wins.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 0 Los Angeles Galaxy
ATT: 21,000 (sell out)
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steve Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa-Modou Kah, Sam Adekugbe; Russell Teibert, Matías Laba, Nicolas Mezquida (Deybi Flores 82‘), Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh (Darren Mattocks 78‘); Octavio Rivero (Erik Hurtado 86‘) [Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey, Robert Earnshaw]
LOS ANGELES: Jaime Penedo; A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar González, Tommy Meyer (Alan Gordon 78‘), Todd Dunivant (Edson Buddle 64‘); Stefan Ishizaki, Juninho, Mika Väyrynen (Robbie Rogers 40‘), Baggio Husidic; Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane [Substitutes not used: Brian Rowe, Dan Gargan, Rafael Garcia, Ignacio Maganto]
Shots: Vancouver 18 – LA 6
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 9 – LA 1
Saves: Vancouver 1 – LA 7
Fouls: Vancouver 6 – LA 10
Offsides: Vancouver 3 – LA 1
Corners: Vancouver 1 – LA 4
Thoughts on the match:
“We scored two goals in the second half. I thought we played very well in the first half without capitalizing on our chances created. We couldn’t hit the target. It was like shooting practice without a goal. The second half we were a little bit more clinical.”
Big win for the team:
“It’s one game for us. It’s important that we won because we won last week, and we probably didn’t play as well as we should have or could have. Not from the fault of any of the guys. They don’t go out there and try to perform badly, but that happens sometimes. Their levels aren’t what they should be, and I asked them for a response today. After 45 minutes and it was nil-nil, I was a little bit worried because we were playing well, but it’s about winning. We managed to get two goals against the best team. Say what you want, they are the best team. They prove it year in and year out. They have some of the best players. It was a good result for us, but it was one game. We’ll enjoy it tonight because tomorrow it’s gone. We have a big game on Wednesday.”
Thoughts on stopping Keane and Zardes:
“You can’t give good players space. I spoke all week about Robbie especially, how smart he is at getting into pockets. He can destroy teams on his own, and we wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. We did a lot of work with Mati and Rusty, and I thought both of them were absolutely fantastic. They were great with their tactical understanding. If you limit their space and time, and don’t allow them to get shots, we’ll have a chance to win the game.”
Thoughts on Kekuta Manneh:
“I told Kekuta he had done very well in the first half without hitting the target. I told him in the second half that he needed to stay positive and hit the target, and he did so it was a good performance. I think he has shown over the past couple of weeks glimpses of it, but for 70-odd minutes he was outstanding today.”
Thoughts on bringing in Deybi Flores:
“Warm-up players were excellent today. I think we deserve the three points. It was probably Mezquida’s best game for the club. The way he drifted. The way he found pockets of space. He set-up the second goal with a little bit of magic, and I wanted to bring a little bit of energy in that area, so I put Deybi on. He was full of energy. He could have probably had a goal or two himself, so yeah, it was promising from him.”
Thoughts on team confidence:
“Yeah, I think they have to feel good about themselves. As I said we put up a great performance against the best team. What we have to do since last year is be more consistent, then we become a very good team. I don’t want to be a good team one week, and a very poor team the next two or three weeks. It’s about consistency, but with young players, you don’t always have consistency. My job, and my staff’s job, is to get it more consistent than not. That’s part of our focus here, but as I said, we’ll enjoy it, but it’s just one game. It’s another game off the calendar, but we have two massive game coming up with the first game on Wednesday against a very good Columbus team.”
Thoughts on Kah and Waston:
“People talk about goal-scorers and finding goal-scorers, but I think the centre back position is the hardest one to find on any team. When you find a good one, or good ones, it’s important you get them on your team and get them on to your squad, and develop them. We’ve been very fortunate, obviously with bringing in Kendall mid-way through last year, and Kah coming in at the beginning of this year, replacing Andy O’Brien, another top experience player, and bringing in Diego as well. I still have Timmy Parker and Christian Dean. I’m happy with all five centre backs I have, and I’ll carry all five centre backs. You need five centre backs all season. They’ve started off very well. Diego’s missed the last two games, and he’s back in the fold on Wednesday.”
Thoughts on team playing well right now:
“I just challenge them. I see it on a daily basis. They are really good players. They’ve got a really talented group in here, but as I said, it’s about consistency. When you train Monday to Friday, I want them to train hard and get that winning mentality, that competitiveness between themselves. And if you do that Monday to Friday, then it’ll come out on Saturday. I see them play during the week and they are outstanding. Sometimes we’ll get it right and sometimes we won’t, as we’ve seen in the past two weeks, but it’s important when you don’t get it right, you grind out victories, but we got it right today. We played very well. We have to start believing in our good players because everyone can talk you up, but it’s about playing consistently and doing it over a period of time.”
Thoughts on tonight’s defence:
“The centre backs played fantastic. They cleared almost everything today. One of your esteemed colleagues told me I didn’t have much to do today and he was right. I had an easy night because we did great defensive work.”
On the early season success:
“There’s definitely confidence in the locker room. There’s also knowledge that we need to be even better every time we go in. When people are going to play the Whitecaps, they are going to say, “They’re really good and we need to beat them.” So we need to be even better and we need to work even harder if we want to keep ourselves up there. It starts on Wednesday with a game at home again.”
On Kekuta Manneh’s goal:
“It was fantastic. He’s done it all week in training. We know he can do it. It’s fantastic to see him get what he deserves from all the hard work today.”
On Octavio Rivero’s offensive output:
“I’m actually not surprised. He’s been known all along as an excellent striker and he’s shown he’s working hard and he’s believing in himself and now, he’s getting his goals.”
On containing the LA Galaxy offence:
“They’re a really good team. Normally, they’re good at breaking teams down and it’s a testament to what we did defensively today – not just the back four but midfield and up front, getting in those right areas and getting around their dangerous players. I think we did tremendous today.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It was very important for us to win today. Last game was a good game and today we were able to continue the good pace. Thank god we won. Now, this game is over, we have to think only of Columbus.”
On the defensive strategy against LA Galaxy strikers Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes:
“We just wanted to be close to them. They like to play between each other. The team today was very compact. We kept the ball so that gave us a second breath. That helped a lot because we had a lot of good possessions. Today we did the things that we didn’t do last game so obviously, today was a better game for us. We scored two good goals and that is very important for us.”
On Kekuta Manneh’s recent play:
“He’s a very important player for us. He’s a young guy that wants to reach the top level. I think he’s improving every day and he wants to get better. Today was a nice goal for him because in the last games, he got others opportunities when he couldn’t score, so today we’re very happy for him that he could score.”
On getting the crowd pumped:
“Sometimes we just need the people to get into it. This thing is a group thing – us players, the staff, the fans, we are together and we want to make history together, that’s why I did that.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It was a very important game. The whole team played very well. It was a very good tactical performance. We had more possessions tonight than the last game. It’s important to win here in our house and now have a four-game winning streak. We have another important game on Wednesday.”
On Coach Carl Robinson’s post-game message:
“Coach Carl Robinson told me we needed to play defence better in the middle and that won’t be a problem for this team. I feel happy when we play like this, when we move the ball. We’ll enjoy this game and now just wait for the next game on Wednesday, and hopefully we get another win.”
Talk about the result:
“They were the better team all night, they outplayed us the entire match. They outcompeted us form the start and it was a big factor in the game, give them credit, they outplayed us in every aspect of the game.”
What can you take from this game:
“Can’t take anything good. Personally every player can look at their performance and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The attack wasn’t really good:
“We didn’t do anything well tonight, no excuses.”
How much better is this Whitecaps FC team than the one you saw last year:
“Who knows, you don’t know anything this early in a season. Ask me that question in August and I’d hopefully have an answer for you. Right now they have four wins in five games, that’s real positive.”
What do you think of Rivero:
“Good player, good player.”
Slow start, is there enough time to bounce back:
“We have what 30 more games, 29 more games. There’s a chance to bounce back.”
Thoughts on the match:
“I don’t think we created many chances, the final third all the way up from me could’ve been better the entire night. We gave up two goals on a night you’re not going to win many games away from home like that.”
Was their speed an issue, especially going against Manneh:
“I don’t think they really used him [Manneh] too much, except on the counter attacks and you saw that’s when he got his goal. Then we went to three backs and you’re dealing with Manneh, Mattocks, and Hurtado all guys with pretty good pace coming at you, Omar and I were on three on two quite a few times.”
Is there anything you can take from the game?
“There’s not much you can take from this game, we just got outplayed, outworked and I think all the way around any guy won their battle tonight.”
How do you rebound from tonight with Seattle coming home?
“We’re at home, we know what we can do there. If we can’t get points on the road we have to win every single game at home. Start with Seattle then we play Kansas City after that. These are as big games as you can have six games into the year.”
Thoughts on the match:
“I could talk about myself, my teammates they were good today. I felt like was multiple times I wasn’t a threat going forward, got be a threat, got to put the defenders on their heels when I’m playing up top or out wide.”
Do you think the offence isn’t clicking right now:
“It’s early, a bunch of us left with our national team, our attacking forwards, it’s hard to come back and just get in the groove of it, but then again there’s no excuses we didn’t show up.”
Is it about regaining a sharpness:
“This week we’re going to work on our chemistry, just getting the ball moving. Usually we outplay teams, we don’t let other teams touch the ball, although tonight we let Vancouver catch a rhythm.”
The team got run over a bit tonight:
“Yeah this team is very fast on the counter attack, when we lost the ball they were already running away with it.”
Slow start again this season:
“To be honest we’re one of those teams, we have a lot of veteran players. Last year I think we even started out worse than this year. It’s a long season and we’re going to move and stride forward. I feel okay with the team coming forward.”
What did Vancouver do to make it difficult:
“They had a lot of numbers back. A back line of four, they didn’t really go up, their wing backs stayed tucked in it was good on their part. Their defensive midfielders who come back and helped, he didn’t push to far up the field.”
Thoughts on the match:
“We have to give them a lot of credit, they were the better team there’s no question about that, they outplayed us.”
Does the chemistry need to get better:
“They played better than us, it’s not about chemistry. Tonight that obviously wasn’t there but you know it wasn’t because we weren’t trying, it was the fact that they were the better team.”
Is it a good wakeup call this early in the season:
“It seems to happen to us a lot at the start of the season. Start off very very slow and then end up kicking on and then winning it, hopefully that will be the case again.”
What did Vancouver do:
“Nothing, they just played better than us, they were the better team all around. They kept the ball, they counter attacked very very well and at the end of the night they scored two goals. You just have to hold your hands up and accept we weren’t good enough tonight and they were the better team.”
Is it a different Vancouver team?
“Yeah completely. If you look at the squad now they have that Carl has inherited it’s his own team now. Before it wasn’t really his own team, it was from previous managers. This is 100% Carl’s team, as good a manager as he is, it was a matter of time before he had a good good team and that’s what they were tonight.”