Stoppage time is killing the Vancouver Whitecaps, or rather their seeming inability to keep the ball out of their net during it. After giving up two late goals in Saturday’s loss to Real Salt Lake, they were undone by another one against the LA Galaxy in Sandy, Utah on Wednesday night, falling to a 2-1 defeat, their fifth straight loss.
A 47th minute Chicharito goal finally broke the deadlock, with what was the first shot on target of the match, and it was a fairly uninspiring encounter all round until the stoppage time drama that saw Janio Bikel tie things up for the Whitecaps in the 92nd minute only for Efrain Alvarez to hit a stunning winner for the Galaxy two minutes later.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions that will surely crush an already deflated Whitecaps dressing room. How they respond in the next few games will be very telling of the mentality of this team.
Marc Dos Santos made two changes to the starting line-up from the team that lost to RSL at the weekend. Lucas Cavallini came in to partner Brian White up front, as the ‘Caps moved back to a 4-4-2 formation, and Cristian Gutierrez came back in at left back after a brief injury.
Vancouver started the game with the better possession, before LA quickly took over, but neither side did anything of note with it in a snoozefest of a half that produced. no shots on target from either team.
That all changed two minutes into the second half when Gutierrez played a pass to Janio Bikel, but it was intercepted by the Galaxy, setting up a quick passing move that ended up with Sacha Kljestan playing the ball to the far post for the easiest of finishes for Chicharito.
IT'S TOO EASY FOR @CH14_ ✨
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) June 24, 2021
That goal was the Mexican’s eighth of the season, one more than the entire Whitecaps team combined.
Going behind seemed to finally spark the Whitecaps into life and they had a couple of breaks and looks at goal, with Lucas Cavallini being played in but falling over the ball, then Deiber Caicedo fired an effort into the side netting.
The best chance so far for the Whitecaps to level came in the 79th minute when Erik Godoy crashed a header off the bar from a free kick.
But despite all the huff, there was very little puff and it looked like the ‘Caps were going to slump to another defeat until the unlikeliest of goalscoring heroes stepped up for Vancouver.
As the game headed into stoppage time, Bikel found himself with space and time in the box and coolly fired home a low one into the far corner. It was shocking LA defending, and even Bikel seemed surprised, but it was finally back to 1-1.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) June 24, 2021
It was no more than the Whitecaps deserved and coming after giving up two stoppage time goals on Saturday, it felt like one of those potential turning points of a season. That feeling lasted for less than two minutes before another potential turning point occurred.
Andy Rose’s headed clearance didn’t have a lot of power to it and it fell to Efrain Alvarez inside the edge of the box and his stunning shot flew past Max Crepeau into the top left corner to give the Galaxy back the lead and ultimately all three points.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) June 24, 2021
There was still time for the Whitecaps to hit a dramatic leveller, and they nearly did when Ciao Alexandre’s goalbound header was acrobatically turned away by Jonathan Bond in the Galaxy goal and time ran out for any more late drama.
What this does to the team mentally, coming hot on the heels of giving up two stoppage time goals at the weekend, hardly bears thinking about. Five straight defeats, three goals given up over two games in the dying embers of matches, joint bottom of the conference standings, and heading into Seattle to play the unbeaten team at top next is enough to break anyone’s spirits.
How they get out of this slump with what they currently have, I don’t know, but it certainly feels like the clock is ticking before drastic changes will be made. The Dallas away game on July 4th feels massive for the club as to what this season will be and Marc Dos Santos’ future.
We probably already know the answer, but the hope is still there that a return to Vancouver and the addition of a number 10 may turn things around. Sadly, this may be deluded and it’s going to take a lot, lot more before things start to really show an upward trajectory.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 2 LA Galaxy
ATT: Some, but numbers not given!
VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Javain Brown (Caio Alexandre 53), Érik Godoy, Andy Rose, Cristian Gutierrez; Cristian Dájome, Janio Bikel, Michael Baldisimo (Leonard Owusu 71), Russell Teibert (Déiber Caicedo 58); Brian White (Ryan Raposo 71), Lucas Cavallini [Substitutes not used: Thomas Hasal, Ranko Veselinović, Theo Bair, Jake Nerwinski, Patrick Metcalfe]
LOS ANGELES: Jonathan Bond; Julian Araujo, Sega Coulibaly, Nicholas DePuy, Jorge Villafaña (Oniel Fisher 71); Sebastian Lletget, Sacha Kljestan (Jonathan dos Santos 59), Víctor Vázquez (Adam Saldana 71); Samuel Grandsir (Cameron Dunbar 81), Chicharito, Kevin Cabral (Efrain Álvarez 60) [Substitutes not used: Jonathan Klinsmann, Giancarlo González, Ethan Zubak, Jonathan Perez]
Possession: VAN 49.2% – LA 50.8%
Shots: VAN 11 – LA 9
Shots on Goal: VAN 3 – LA 2
Saves: VAN 0 – LA 2
Fouls: VAN 13 – LA 10
Offsides: VAN 1 – LA 2
Corners: VAN 5 – LA 3
MARC DOS SANTOS
On the match:
“The first goal it’s an easy giveaway from us, it’s not a goal that the Galaxy works. It’s a giveaway in our half that leads to the transition to do the 1-0. Then we reacted very well. We went after it, we pushed, we tied the game and then in a ball that happens I don’t know how many times in ten that he could take like that, but Alvarez takes it very well, first to second touch incredibly fast. The ball is not fully cleared and then when we clear it, it ends on his feet, and his two touches are great. We played for one or another ball to try to draw it. Then Bond makes a fantastic save on Caio. Look, the team didn’t deserve to lose. I’m with the guys, they pushed during the game. And unfortunately we’re very disappointed to lose the game like that.”
On consecutive tough results:
“It’s hard for every team in MLS that has a series of losses. Mentally, nobody likes to be in this position. Unfortunately, we are in this position, and we need to try to find a way to react. We know how difficult it is the game on Saturday. It’s not an easy game. But it’s also a big opportunity for us to go to Seattle and try to get something out of the game. Emotionally we have to be strong, stay together, and hopefully grow from this.”
On the leadership inside the locker room:
“We have a leadership group we speak with. A lot of things have to come from me but some other things in some moments have to come from the locker room. But again I don’t think today was to doubt or to point any finger at the type of commitment the players had to push, and try to get first the draw and then try to win it. When we went down 1-0, that comes from absolutely nothing. The goals of LA come from nothing. The one is a giveaway in our half, and the other one is just the long ball played in the box and then Alvarez has that play. We need to be strong. We have a young group and we need to make sure that they understand that in moments like that we need to turn the page and look what’s forward right now.”
On the match:
“It’s definitely a tough one to swallow. Both matches, but especially this one when we have momentum after that goal from Janio. Again, it’s a tough one for the team to swallow, but we have a match in a couple of days so after tonight it’s all focused on that.”
On getting a result in Seattle:
“I believe it has to be a team effort. It has to be the whole squad, the eleven and the guys off the bench. We really need to push the tempo more, challenge, fight for every single ball. We’re not scared of anyone in the league and we’re going to go out there and show that on the weekend.”
On the second half:
“It’s not what we want. We gave the goal. We talked here and we need to stay focused for 90 minutes. The second half we played good in their half and to concede a goal like that is hard.”
“We have to look to ourselves, and we have to do more. It’s not enough. We need to keep trying and do our best to get the result.”