After last week’s Voyageurs Cup heartache, Vancouver Whitecaps were looking for a bounce back performance to ease some of that pain. Although they put in a spirited display at time in LA, they were never really at the races against the Galaxy, going down to a 2-0 defeat.
Robbie Keane set LA on their way in the 12th minute, with a fantastic strike from the edge of the box, before Jeff Larentowicz headed home a second for the Galaxy two minutes after half time, basically killing the game off as a contest.
Heading in to the game, it was hard to expect the ‘Caps to get much, if anything from it. In all honesty they played better than I expected them to, but it was so uninspiring.
The big talk from the starting line-up was Kekuta Manneh’s absence from the gameday squad, despite travelling down to LA. The official word was “coach’s decision”, sparking immediate chatter about whether Carl Robinson was sending a message or we may be looking at a shock transfer.
Erik Hurtado started again up front and showed for the umpteenth time that he couldn’t finish a fish supper. He puts in a shift, you can’t knock his workrate, but he is clearly not a MLS starter and the jury is still out as to whether he has much of a future in the league at all. His saving grace is his low salary.
Hurtado had a couple of chances which he squandered and blasted over, before Andrew Jacobson headed a free kick into the net but it was ruled out for offside.
LA controlled the possession in the first half, then were happy to soak up Vancouver’s pressure after going two up. The ‘Caps puffed but had nothing to worry the Galaxy backline.
The ‘Caps were given the slightest glimmer of hope in the 74th minute when Nigel de Jong was sent off for a horrible late tackle on Blas Perez, and although Jacobson and Pedro Morales forced saves from Brian Rowe with a couple of long range efforts, Vancouver never really looked like staging the late comeback they needed.
July is a jam packed month for the ‘Caps. We can only hope it gets a lot better with three homes games now coming up.
FINAL SCORE: LA Galaxy 2 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
LOS ANGELES: Brian Rowe; AJ DeLaGarza, Daniel Steres, Leonardo, Dave Romney; Nigel de Jong, Jeff Larentowicz; Giovani dos Santos (Mike Magee 90+4), Steven Gerrard (Alan Gordon 85), Gyasi Zardes; Robbie Keane (Baggio Husidic 77) [Subs Not Used: Dan Kennedy, Sebastian Lletget, Emmanuel Boateng, Rafael Garcia]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jordan Smith, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Andrew Jacobson, Matías Laba (Kianz Froese 81); Christian Bolaños, Pedro Morales, Nicolás Mezquida (Blas Pérez 67); Erik Hurtado (Cristian Techera 71) [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Cole Seiler, Ben McKendry]
On if he looked like LA Galaxy’s Jeff Larentowicz committed a foul before scoring his second-half goal:
“I agree with you. I think it was a slight push in the back. I try to look at the rules and I think you guys and ladies are the same. If there’s hands in the back of someone, it’s classed a foul. So I was disappointed with that. Could we do better on it? Yes, I think. But it was clear to see the hands in the back of him. Although it might be a light push, if it’s a push it’s a foul. So I’m disappointed because I thought we played so well in the first half and that goal probably gave them a little bit of breathing space.”
On what he made of LA’s first goal and going into the half down 0-1:
“I ask my players every time they step on the field to try and work as hard as they can, pass the ball and enjoy playing. And I thought we saw that in the first 45 minutes today. I thought we were excellent against a good team. They’ve got lots of superstars and in reference to the first goal…can we do better? Yes. But Robbie [Keane]’s been putting them in the top post for 20 odd years. Sick of seeing it, to be fair. He did have a smile at me and I didn’t want to give him a smile back, but he’s a top, top player. That changed the first half because I thought we were excellent in the first half, but the reason Robbie gets paid a lot of money is because he’s able to do that.”
On his decision not to go the bench earlier:
“I thought we were playing well. Obviously you’re 2-nil down and the game started opening up because we know we needed to attack and sometimes we went two versus two in the back with Kendall [Watson] and Timmy [Parker] and Steven Gerrard and Keane [Robbie]. Those are risks you have to take. But I still felt we could get a goal and chances and we got into some great positions. But we didn’t have the quality in and around the penalty box which was the disappointing thing from a very positive performance.”
On if Nigel de Jong deserves a suspension:
“Do I think? I like Nigel. He’s a competitor. I said to the linesman, 4th official… they have a difficult job as it is, but you set your tone and there was two or three challenges…my midfield player got a yellow card for a tackle when there was worse tackles. I haven’t seen it again, but Nigel’s a competitor. I leave it at that, it’s not my decision.”
On the team’s play in the second half:
“I thought we got into some very good positions. We passed the ball very well. Again, you’re not going to dominate possession when you come to LA. He’s the best coach in the league, we know that. They’ve got the best players in the league. And they can change games in a second which showed in the first half. To give a goal away a minute in the second half whether it was a foul or not doesn’t matter. Then you’re 2-nil down and it’s character. And my group has got a lot of character. We kept playing, we kept plugging away and we got into some great areas but we didn’t have the quality in and around the penalty box. But I can’t fault them for their effort and the way the approached the game.
On if finding somebody with quality in the penalty box is a priority in the transfer window:
“I think so. I think you’re always looking at the top end of the pitch. Games are won and lost at the top end of the pitch and if you can’t put the ball in the back of the net. Up until today we’ve done very well and that’s it. But we need to be better, we know that. That’s the old adage of the blanket. Pull the blanket over your head and your feet get cold. Pull it over your feet and your head gets cold. It’s the same with your attacking and defending.”
On tonight’s game:
“I think we played well tonight as a team. I think we created chances and I think we played well defensively. It was just an unfortunate result.”
On going down 2-0:
“I think after the second goal we thought that we could come back and get a couple of goals, maybe even three, it happened and we need to adapt and I think we did adapt. I think we created more chances after that to score.”
On the Galaxy:
“The Galaxy is a great team. Defensively to offensively and we just had to go out there and try to create chances because at the end scoring goals wins games. We just have to build on our chances that we created this game and hopefully in the next couple of games coming up at home we could put those goals away.”
On tonight’s game:
“I thought we played well. I thought that we had a good 90 minutes of football. I think that goal early on definitely helped them. I think we had a lot of pressure going our way. I think that goal was able to give them confidence throughout the match and I think that if maybe they don’t get that goal the game goes a little bit differently.”
On the Galaxy’s offense:
“I think you give somebody like Robbie Keane a little bit of space that is what he can do and credit to him for being able to execute it. They have a lot of guys that have been playing football for a long time with a lot of experience and they know how to manage the game, how to play the game and they know how to go forward with it.”
On the team’s performance:
“I think we showed a lot of character and a lot of heart going forward. I think going forward we had chances. I think it is just about keeping our confidence high going into the next match obviously taking the positives from this game into this home stand.”
On the next three home games:
“Obviously we are going to look for maximum points, we are going to look for nine points but right now we just want to take this kind of confidence we have right now although this was a loss. I think we have to take the positives from this game and what we did well and take that into the first game.”
LOS ANGELES GALAXY
On what Robbie Keane’s adds to the team:
“Chemistry, experience, confidence. We’re halfway into the season and I’d probably give us a B- on the first half. But we haven’t played our team the whole year. Hopefully we can get through the next three of four games and have our team in good form when August comes around. It’s been one of those years. Robbie [Keane]’s last full game was when he left here which would have been May 22. It’s July 4. He hasn’t played the whole time he’s been gone and he’s going to have to work to get his fitness back. But he did a heck of a job tonight. Steven Gerrard’s been hurting and Giovani dos Santos has been hurting and Gyasi Zardes has been gone. Gyasi was a workhorse with the national team. We gave him the week off and it’s good to get him back. He’s very valuable as well. It’s just been tough. We’re missing two defenders, we’ll miss Nigel on Saturday. Robbie Rogers has got surgery. It’s taking some time. Not to make excuses; it is what it is. You just have to try and be better in the second half of the season.”
On his opinion of Nigel de Jong’s red card:
“It wasn’t a good tackle. I think you can pick your colour card. I don’t like when the referee shows a yellow card then comes back and gives a red. This is two weeks in a row. The one last week with Ashley, someone should put their hand up and say, “I’m sorry, that’s a big mistake and it shouldn’t happen.” I think tonight it’s valid to give a red card, but it’s awkward when you show a yellow then come back with a red. I think Nigel has to show better judgment. I think he got elbowed on the play and got a little angry. But I don’t think the tackle is a good tackle by any means.”
On what changed for the team in the second half:
“Well obviously getting the early second goal and Vancouver tried to push the game a little bit at that point. I thought some of our central combinations were good. Nigel’s passing into Gio and Stevie and Robbie was good. It got us into the attack a little bit quicker. Our spacing was better in the second half, we talked about that at halftime. We played a little bit better up to the 75th minute and obviously up until the red card then we’re playing with 10 players the last 15-20 minutes of the game.”
On the play of Jeff Larentowicz:
“Good, solid game. I wasn’t happy with his first half. I thought he could have been a little bit better with the ball. A little bit more aggressive around the ball. I thought the second half was good for him. He’s done a real good job for us. He put 90 minutes in San Jose, 90 minutes in Portland the other night and 90 minutes tonight so he’s put some good shifts in. I think AJ DeLaGarza deserves a purple heart for his efforts – it’s only appropriate on July 4th that he gets that. He’s played every minute of every game over the last two and a half to three weeks and he’s done a heck of a job.”
On how effective Steven Gerrard has been for the Galaxy:
“The first pass into Robbie for the first goal was good. He hits get set pieces. As he gets fitter and we get a little bit more coordinated and in a better rhythm as a team in the attacking part of the field he’s going to produce some numbers. He’ll get some goals and more assists. But tonight, Steven did a good job, he really did.”
On being back with the group and scoring:
“I get paid to score goals. It’s my job. Obviously getting three points is the most important thing. It was obviously nice to get that early goal for the team; I think it’s always important to do that. If you do that, teams come out at you a little bit more and to be fair to them, they didn’t too much. And to get that goal early in the second half killed the game off.”
On immediately thinking about shooting when he received the pass from Steven Gerrard:
“I’ve been doing this for a long time. As soon as you get half a yard and can see the goal, take a shot. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score. Thankfully for me, it went into the top corner. As soon as Stevie gets the ball, I know exactly where to go and I know what he’s going to do. He’s done it for a long time. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. Tonight, for me, it went in.”
On the difference between the first and second half:
“The first 20 minutes, we played well. Passed the ball around. Then they got back into the game, getting too many crosses in from the left side. In the second half, they didn’t look like were threatening at all in the second half, to be honest… We kept the ball and had some good moments, but in the second half, we never looked like we were going to concede.”
On Bruce saying the team deserves a B- in the first half of the season:
“Have we done okay? Yeah, we’ve done okay. We’re sticking in there. The problem when you’ve got the Galaxy, you’ve got a team that will always have players going away on international duty. And of course, we’ve had a few injuries as well. And then we have some suspensions… If we get everyone fit and back on the field, I think we’ll be okay.”
On tonight’s game:
“Yeah it’s been too long, we’ve let a lot of games slip in the last moments of the game. So to get over the line today and get maximum points and very important win. Now it’s important that we build on this and try a streak of winning games together.”
On Robbie Keane’s early goal and how that affected the team:
“We knew getting Robbie [Keane] and Gyasi [Zardes] back into the team that gives us a lot more fire power and we all know and everyone knows in this league if you give Robbie Keane chances he’ll score goals and it’s my responsibility and the rest of the guys responsibility that we keep feeding him ammunition because we know he’ll fire the shots.”
On his assists this season and what has changed from his game compared to last year:
“Bruce Arena, he’s trusting me further up the pitch, that the key. I told him, play me closer to Robbie Keane and the attacking players and I’ll make plays on the final third, simple, I’ve done it all my career. I can’t make plays from the edge of my box, so play me closer to the opposition goal, and I’ll try and get goals and try and create goals.”
On the team’s defence tonight”
“I think the key to this club and the personal that we have on this roster is defend well and we will have a successful campaign. There’s too much talent and too many good players on the team for us not to do well and we’ve just have to stop goals at the other end. We’ve been defending terrifically well, tonight we had two big players missing, Ashley Cole and Jelle Van Damme. Credit to the players that have come in, they’ve took the chance and they have performed very very well, but moving forward it’s important that were tight and were solid. We got knocked out in the playoffs last year because we were too soft and conceded stupid goals, that has to stop this year.”
On the game:
“I think we started fast, I think we started well once we got the goal. Maybe passing wise we were a little sloppier but second half was good.”
On his goal:
“[It was] pretty straight forward. Stevie [Gerrard] played the ball to the back post, they got [Kendall] Waston in there who’s a big body, trying to miss him out, it came over his head and I think I got away with a push and scored a goal.”
On the last time he scored in MLS, last September with the Chicago Fire:
“[Scoring] every season is not bad [laughs].”
On how it feels to finally be able to contribute, after starting the season off with an injury:
“It’s good. It’s a goal to be in the lineup, to be on the team to help us win games. I think all those things came together tonight, I was in the lineup and scored a goal and we won, so it’s good.”
On playing alongside Nigel de Jong:
“I think we are learning. We complement each other when we can, learning to cover each other and move in and out of spaces. It’s coming together. We are not always playing together so sometimes it is one step forward and two steps back and you kind of learn as you go. I thought tonight was a positive step.”
REFEREE ROBERT SIGIBA
On his decision on Nigel de Jong’s tackle:
“My initial reaction based on the angle I had was a caution. However, after consulting with the referee crew, we decided that a red card was a proper punishment for this tackle.”