Report and Reaction: The Lion awakens to feast on ‘Caps

Report and Reaction: The Lion awakens to feast on ‘Caps

They may have had their chances, but Vancouver Whitecaps were unable to get any goals in the first half allowing Zlatan and the Galaxy to take over and complete a 2-0 victory in front of a sell out crowd at BC Place on Friday night.

After setting up Daniel Steres for the winner, Ibrahimovic scored one of his own, sending his fans to their feet and sinking Whitecaps hopes and hearts.

It was close to a perfect start for the ‘Caps when they were given a penalty in the first minute after Lass Bangoura was taken down in the box. The result, however, was disastrous, with Ali Adnan’s Panenka scuffed and easily smothered by David Bingham, with the ball not even reaching the goalline.

The Whitecaps were looking the better side and Joaquin Ardaiz, getting his first start at the expense of Fredy Montero, found himself in the clear in the 19th minute, after a couple of Galaxy defenders bundled the ball in the box, but Bingham was able to come up big and deny the striker.

An end to end rush by Vancouver, ten minutes later, saw Hwang turn his opponent inside out but a weak shot was gathered up by Bingham, who was looking strong in the LA goal.

The Galaxy had their chances in the first half, with an Alessandrini volley sailing over the bar being the closest they came to opening the scoring.

After the break Ibrahimovic was twice close to breaking the deadlock in the opening minutes. First he shot wide on an open net and then was called offside after firing home from 12 yards out.

This was just delaying the inevitable, and the Swedish international would be involved in the opening LA goal, just after the hour mark, sending a cross to the far post where Daniel Steres was all alone to put the Galaxy on top, heading home with ease.

It was horrible defending from Vancouver and it wasn’t the last we would see over the course of the evening.

Ibrahimovic finally found himself on the scoresheet eight minutes later when he was able to gather a cross in the box, chest it down, before swivelling and firing it past Max Crepeau to put the visitors up by two.

Adnan’s attempt from distance in the last ten minutes was the closest the ‘Caps came to getting on the scoreboard but in the end a fourth loss in five matches to start the season would be the end result.

Despite their chances the ‘Caps have gone a second straight scoreless match at home and have gone 216 minutes now since their last goal.

Once again the ‘Caps showed flashes but it seems like the closer they get to goal the more they forget how to connect passes or finish with their shots.

The ‘Caps have also now only garnered a single point in their first five matches under dos Santos, including three at home. It’s made some of the natives restless and it doesn’t get easier for them over the next few weeks as fixture congestion and travel become issues when they travel to Chicago to take on the Fire next Friday.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 0 – 2 LA Galaxy

ATT: 22,120

VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Jake Nerwinski, Érik Godoy, Doneil Henry, Ali Adnan; Felipe Martins, Jon Erice (Fredy Montero 74), Russell Teibert (Yordy Reyna 66); Lass Bangoura (Lucas Venuto 59), Joaquín Ardaiz, Inbeom Hwang [Substitutes not used: Zac MacMath, Derek Cornelius, Scott Sutter, Victor “PC” Giro]

LOS ANGELES: David Bingham; Rolf Feltscher, Daniel Steres, Dave Romney, Jørgen Skjelvik (Diedie Traore 88); Jonathan dos Santos, Joe Corona; Romain Alessandrini (Chris Pontius 82), Sebastian Lletget, Uriel Antuna (Emmanuel Boateng 84); Zlatan Ibrahimovic [Substitutes not used: Matt Lampson, Servando Carrasco, Julian Araujo, Efrain Alvarez]


Possession: VAN 44.6% – LA 55.4%
Shots: VAN 14 – LA 15
Shots on Goal: VAN 5 – LA 3
Saves: VAN 1 – LA 5
Fouls: VAN 12 – LA 10
Offsides: VAN 1 – LA 1
Corners: VAN 3 – LA 6
Duels won: VAN 43 – LA 52
Tackles won: VAN 3 – LA 1




On the missed chances:

“The first half, I think we came in very well. It’s probably the best first half that we’ve had this season. It was the same type of rhythm from the game against Seattle and we kept carrying. When we had the penalty and a big opportunity in minute one, and we don’t score, it puts ourselves down because we’re thinking, ‘can we get a break?’ Then Ardaiz has another big chance, Inbeom has another good chance, and then it’s 0-0. The more it’s 0-0, the more instability it could create if the opponent has a little bit of spells in possession and has a player that could make a big difference. It kind of balanced. But that goal, the 1-0 was really tough on us mentally because I felt that we put ourselves in that situation.”

On the defending on the Galaxy goals:

“In my angle, I just saw a play from Ibra putting the ball in the back post. Probably I’ll think the same as you after I re-watch the goal. From the sight I have on the bench, I didn’t see exactly how bad it was. I felt the player in the back post was totally alone but I can’t tell you how bad it was. The second goal, the only player in MLS that scores this goal is Ibra. The way he comes up and chests that ball, I don’t see another player in the league that scores that goal.”

On improving quality in finishing:

“We need to focus on the quality in the last third because in the first half, we had enough chances to be up. And then you can be up 1-0 or 2-0, and you’re not, and then the game turns. Those moments in the last third, we need to have more quality. One of the things we did well in the first half that we did not do as well in the second half is our possession. Our possession in the first half, in big parts of the game was good, we were able to push our team high to generate chances, and it needs to start getting in.”

On what changed in the second half:

“We came in in the first five to ten minutes flat. Nothing of our instructions at halftime or even the feeling we had in the locker room sensed that this was going to go in that direction. The first goal brings a lot of instability because in the moment the team is, there are the opportunities we had in the first half, we felt confident and we felt good about ourselves, and we come in, they start having possession in our half. We had a tough time stepping up and that goal that we concede is tough for us at the moment mentally.”

On if the improvement will come from the current roster or the transfer window:

“First of all, every player on this roster is my responsibility, so I trust everybody on the roster. They’re here for a reason and I believe in them. Second, are we always looking to become better? Yes, absolutely, yes. Is there a chance that happens in the summer transfer? Yes, there is. But again, we have to address things well, and we have to make sure we give back to our fans.”


Thoughts on the match:

“I think in the beginning of the game we had good chances to capitalize. It’s always good to start [and] to go up. We had the opportunity, unfortunately we couldn’t do the PK. Then we had another chance with Ardaiz, unlucky on his right foot, but I think he could do better. But as a team I think, especially the first half, we were the better team. We controlled the game for the most time. [If] we could capitalize and we go up 2-0, it’s a different game, even 1-0. But then second half we come in and they score a goal, and we’ve got to chase the game. So it becomes difficult.”

On the difference from the first half to the second half:

“I just think that we came out a little slow and we lost a little bit the momentum of the game. This can happen, we just need to keep going, we are playing at home. We need to bring energy, even more in the second half. But today unfortunately wasn’t it. But we’re going to keep going, we’re going to keep working hard, we’re going to keep trying our best to improve and build from the first half, because I think it was very good and positive in the first half.”

On the mood after the first goal:

“We still believed. We kept pushing, we kind of had a couple of half chances. But again, we just need to capitalize on the chances we had, and that’s going to get the momentum. They scored the second goal, and especially playing at home, that atmosphere was very good. They kept pushing us, and helping us. But as I said, we’re going to keep building from the first half.”


Thoughts on the match:

“I can’t remember the last game that we got a PK in the first couple of minutes. But that being said, we played an outstanding first half. We created more chances, we were the better side. There’s a lot of positives that you can take from that first half. But, that’s the name of the game. You have to capitalize on your chances, because if you don’t it comes back to bite you. And that’s what happened tonight.”

On his individual performance and injury recovery:

“The shoulder is recovering. It’s one of those injuries that might linger for a little bit, but the freezing helps. I’ll probably be sore later tonight, but as I mentioned, we played a very good first half. The combination with Ali [Adnan] and Inbeom [Hwang], just to name a few, we felt comfortable on the ball. We’re a possession based team, and we showed that we can play that style tonight. We had a lot of good spells, all we needed was the final product.”

On turning positives into goals:

“That’s just it. You’ve got to take the positive moments and capitalize on them. So I think you kind of said the formula there.”

On moving forward:

“This is a difficult time that we’re in. Because you don’t want to say early on it’s not always about points, but we’ve got to start getting points and we all know that. We need to start scoring goals, keep clean sheets – that was a big positive for us last weekend, keeping a clean sheet – but that’s not going to win you games. We’ve got to be able to score goals and capitalize on our chances. That being said, today there was a lot of positives out of that match. We feel going into halftime that we should have been up.”



Thoughts on the match:

“I think we deserved to win the game. In the first half we played bad, didn’t manage the ball. But in the second half we got the ball, we managed the ball, and we played in Vancouver’s [half] of the field. I liked that. We were working during the week for that and we were able to do it in the second half.”

If the game would have changed had Vancouver scored the penalty kick:

“Sure. Because maybe [it would have] made us go a little more ahead, but it was in the first minute so I don’t know. But I think that maybe yes.”

Did the Whitecaps starting lineup surprise him:

“No. Maybe Montero on the bench, but I read something about the injury during the week. But they have good players. I don’t get surprised.”

On having a slow start:

“I think we made a lot of mistakes in the first minutes. Sometimes when we had to kick out the ball we tried to do something different to play in some place where we had a lot of players. [When we] made a mistake, they had the possibility to score; a penalty, one-on-one with Bingham. But during the first half we were getting better, but not like I want. The second half we played really good, we managed the ball, we made a lot of touches. Even when we got the ball, you could see the Galaxy getting better than Vancouver, and we managed the game.”

On Zlatan:

“I think as a team, sometimes in the first half he couldn’t get the ball, he couldn’t get the space. But in the second half he was wonderful.”


On the atmosphere:

“It was a good game, fantastic atmosphere. Thanks to all the people who came out, hopefully they enjoyed the game. It was a good game for us also, especially the second half. If we keep winning, we keep bringing the confidence with us, it was a good game today.”

On halftime adjustments:

“We needed to do more. It was not enough. If he scores the penalty, it would be a different game. In the second half, we came out stronger. We were more confident, more stable in our game. I had the good chance where the goalkeeper gave it to me surprisingly and I missed, which I shouldn’t have missed. Then I score another one, it was offside. Then we have this thing with the VAR. If the referee makes a mistake, it can happen, we all make mistakes. But if you make a mistake by seeing the replay on the video, cannot happen. Then we score with Steres then I score the second one.”

On how he was defended:

“They were trying to play around and I think they gave 200% in the first half because they looked tired in the second half and we took over more and more, and we let them run more and more. I don’t think they changed the way they were marking me. We were more dominant and we got more space and more chances.”

On Ali Adnan’s penalty attempt:

“Things can happen, I felt sorry for the guy. Even if I was happy that he missed, don’t misunderstand me, when it happens, it happens.”

On the midfield’s performance:

“Fantastic. Without their service, I’m not able to do what I’m doing. We just have to keep going and connect more, and I just need to be sharp in front of the goal. Today I should’ve had three goals. One was stolen, one I did, one was sloppy, too sloppy.”


On the slow start in the first half:

“The first half was one of our worst starts to a game of the year. We knew at halftime when it was 0-0 we were still in it if we cleaned up on our end that we’ll come out ahead. Luckily, in the second half we cleaned it up and we put two away and that was the difference today.”

On his penalty kick save:

“It happens. If I fly to the right or left, and he scores then no one says anything about it. It’s soccer, sometimes these things happen. I’m happy I was able to save it and help our team out today.”

On the start to the season:

“Our start has been good. We’ve had one bad game in Dallas and this game turned in the second half but at the end of the day, the league’s not won in March, April, May, it’s won over the whole 10 months. We need to keep the wins alive and make sure when we play at home, we win every game. That’s got to be the top priority and when we go away and grab three points like this, it definitely helps.”

On the key to the second half:

“We stopped giving them the ball. Every chance they got in the first half, we gave them the ball. So once we stopped doing that, they couldn’t really break us down, and if you can’t break us down, we’ll the ball most of the time, and you’ll be running a lot. It worked out for us tonight and we need to start the game like that next week.”

Authored by: Steve Pandher

AFTN Soccer Show co-host and Senior Writer

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