(Photo Credit: @WhitecapsFC/Twitter)
Vancouver Whitecaps finally got back to winning ways on Saturday night, snapping an eight game winless run with a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy in Sandy, Utah.
They didn’t make it easy for themselves, falling behind just five minutes in to a Rayan Raveloson header, but the ‘Caps Colombian connection of Deiber Caicedo and Cristian Dajome led a second half comeback with a pair of goals to give Vancouver a very much needed three points and a first win in over two months.
With ten days off to work on stuff, many were wondering whether we’d see a liittle tinkering or some major changes for Vancouver. In the end it was two from the team that were picked apart by RSL in the last match, with Ranko Veselinovic coming into the middle of the defence for Andy Rose, and Michael Baldisimo coming in for Caio Alexandre, who had adductor tightness.
With LA missing the in-form Chicharito and five others, due to a mixture of injury and international duty, and looking at how close the last meeting was between the two sides, there were reasons to feel optimistic heading into this one that Vancouver could certainly take something from the match, maybe even finally ending the winless streak, that was currently standing at eight games.
Five minutes in and that optimism was looking more like hope than reality as the visitors took an early lead. Victor Vazquez was given all the time in the world to pick out Raveloson, who got ghosted in goalside of Cristian Gutierrez to head past Thomas Hasal with ease.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) July 18, 2021
A horrible start for the ‘Caps, and for a team that talked about the need to pressure the crosser, there was none of that in the goal they had just given.
A lot of time to get back into things, however, but if anything it was LA that looked the more likely to add to their lead.
The Galaxy thought they’d doubled their lead in the 27th minute when Ethan Zubak had an easy tap in from a Samuel Grandsir through ball, but the LA man was clearly offside and the goal was chalked off via VAR, a decision which took far longer than it really should have.
And if Vancouver were thinking maybe this was their lucky day, that increased further when Grandsir crashed one off the bar with seven minutes of the half remaining.
The Whitecaps had generated little though, in another flat and uninspiring first half performance, and while they may have ridden their luck a little bit, they were still very much in this one and it was a far different looking Vancouver side that came out for the second 45 minutes.
The ‘Caps were on the front foot from the start and they tied things up three minutes after the restart when Caicedo fired home a beauty on the volley after LA keeper Jonathan Bond had poorly parried a Javain Brown cross.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) July 18, 2021
The goal gave Vancouver a new impetus and although they had a couple of half chances, LA basically fell out of the game.
With the Whitecaps on the front foot, it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 77th minute, and it was a goal that showed some nice interplay from the ‘Caps’ front three, patience, and the footballing mind to read the play.
Caicedo broke forward with support from Brian White to his left and Dajome to his right. Playing the ball to his countryman in the box, Dajome couldn’t get a shot off, but instead of trying to force something, he took his time and played a short pass to White.
That ball drew all three Galaxy defenders towards White, who let them commit and open up space in front of goal, before playing the ball back to Dajome to fire home the go ahead goal and what proved to be the match winner.
It was some great skill from all involved, and one of the best Whitecaps goals of the season so far.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) July 18, 2021
So a goal up, with 13 minutes remaining and the ghosts of stoppage time to come. Could the Whitecaps finally hang on and claim a much needed morale boosting victory?
The easiest way to secure that would be to hit a third and White came within inches of doing so four minutes later, but Bond acrobatically turned his effort over.
As the game entered stoppage time, the nerves must have been jangling in the ‘Caps camp, but they held firm and nearly put the game to bed with a late Dajome effort.
Not even an extra fifth minute added on to the original four could derail them and they held on for a well deserved win that saw them move off the foot of the Western Conference standings and to within four points of the playoff places.
With a return to Vancouver hopefully imminent, the key for Vancouver during this spell is to stay in touch with the rest of the conference to give themselves a chance and some real hope of making home advantage pay and mount a late playoff push.
It’s not going to be easy. They play a gruelling five games in 15 days and that’s followed by three tough away matches to kick off August. If they’re going to still be in the mix by the end of that period they can’t afford to only be a second half team.
With new additions coming, and hopefully some stoppage time demons laid to rest, there’s still a lot of the season left to play. Next up is a well rested Houston side on Tuesday. Back to back wins would certainly be just what everyone connected with this team needs right now.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 1 LA Galaxy
ATT: Some, not many, but number unknown!
VANCOUVER: Thomas Hasal; Javain Brown, Ranko Veselinović, Érik Godoy, Cristian Gutierrez; Janio Bikel, Michael Baldisimo (Caio Alexandre 71), Russell Teibert; Cristian Dájome, Brian White (Tosaint Ricketts 90+1), Déiber Caicedo (Ryan Raposo 90+2) [Substitutes not used: Evan Newton, Theo Bair, Andy Rose, Leonard Owusu, Jake Nerwinski, Patrick Metcalfe]
LOS ANGELES: Jonathan Bond; Julian Araujo, Nicholas DePuy, Derrick Williams, Jorge Villafaña; Víctor Vázquez, Rayan Raveloson (Adam Saldaña 70), Sacha Kljestan (Daniel Steres 82); Samuel Grandsir, Ethan Zubak (Augustine Williams 71), Kevin Cabral [Substitutes not used: Jonathan Klinsmann, Danilo Acosta, Cameron Dunbar, Daniel Aguirre, Jonathan Perez]
Possession: VAN 49.8 – LA 50.2
Shots: VAN 11 – LA 9
Shots on Goal: VAN 4 – LA 2
Saves: VAN 1 – LA 2
Fouls: VAN 11 – LA 8
Offsides: VAN 5 – LA 2
Corners: VAN 4 – LA 1
MARC DOS SANTOS
On the team mindset:
“The team wanted to win today, and I felt it yesterday in training, I felt it today in the locker room. You feel it with experience as a coach, when [players] just seem like they’re in the right mindset to do well. If you look at the second goal, the guys made sure that they celebrated it all together with the guys that are on the bench. It shows that this group wants it, and this group is working for it. It was a hard spell, before winning this game, very hard for everyone, but we want to make sure we keep going and we grow from it.”
On play from the forwards:
“I think especially in the second half there was a spark. The second goal looks like a great goal where nobody was selfish, there was a spark in the three in that moment. In the first half it was again that story of good possession, slow, good positioning, but slow from side to side, the lack of that last ball, the lack of that penetration to try to create more. But it opened up a little bit more in the second half.”
On first half struggles:
“We’re trying to figure it out… We have to find a way of coming in and setting the tone, because they get that goal at the fourth minute that is incredibly passive. I’ll speak with my staff. Should we review a couple of things during the warm-up? Should we do something right before the kickoff? We have to try to find solutions.”
On overcoming past injury time lapses:
“Sports give you a lot of examples of life. If you had many car accidents, you’re probably afraid of being in a car, and we had moments that we conceded very late, so of course we’re still trying to manage injury time and not conceding… I think we’re going to get over it, and I think that the guys are also going to learn with experience.”
DEIBER CAICEDO (through interpreter)
On his goal helping the team win:
“What I want to do is help the team, whether it be a goal or an assist. Today I was fortunate enough to be able to do that. And today we won. I didn’t win today, the team won. That’s so important for us going forward to try and achieve the objectives we want to achieve as a team.”
On a slow start in the first half:
“In the first half it’s happening to us where we get pressed really quickly right at the start the game and we have to work twice as hard at the end to hold that pressure and continue building up our play. At the end of the first half, we did get a little bit closer to their net so we knew in the second half they’d drop back a little bit more. So we pressed as much as we could in the first half, and then when we got out from the second half, we got the goal we needed, and we got the moment we needed. This is a group thing, you know, all the guys that were in there today, gave it their all in the end we got what we wanted, which was the win.”
CRISTIAN DAJOME (through interpreter)
On the match:
“We’re happy for the three points. It was important to get another win under our belts, and it’s good to see the team’s effort. We talked about it, trying to lift ourselves up, and I thought we did that out there tonight.”
On what was said at halftime:
“Marc said to keep moving the ball around, to keep possession flowing around. We were having to keep moving the ball around quickly. If we could do that more it would allow for spaces in between the Galaxy defence to be opened up.”
On the importance of the win:
“It’s important because we get out of the slump we were in. At the end of the day these three points can give us confidence to keep going and keep pushing in the games that are coming. Obviously we’ve got to flip the page quickly to Houston in three days. We’ll be we’ll be looking back at this game and trying to give it our all for the Houston game.”