Report and Reaction: Whitecaps go into Leagues Cup break on a high but victory over 10-man Galaxy a lot more difficult than it needed to be

Report and Reaction: Whitecaps go into Leagues Cup break on a high but victory over 10-man Galaxy a lot more difficult than it needed to be

They may have got the win, they may have bagged another three crucial points that saw them move up a couple of places in the standings, but Vancouver Whitecaps certainly made life difficult for themselves in their 4-2 victory over LA Galaxy at BC Place on Saturday night.

A Ryan Gauld double and an early goal from Brian White had the ‘Caps three up and coasting 23 minutes into this one against a Galaxy side that were reduced to 10 men when Chris Mavinga saw red in the 18th minute, but a second half performance that saw them move away from everything that they had been doing right and giving up possession and chances to a revitalised visitors, who duly took advantage with a Gastón Brugman goal just past the hour mark and a second from Mark Delgado with 16 minutes remaining that set up a nervy ending.

Sergio Cordova eased those nerves four minutes into stoppage time, with his second goal in as many matches, but it should never have even got to that point with the lack of discipline and game management certainly concerning for the ‘Caps in the second half but thankfully coming to nothing more than a scare and something to work on.

Suspended from yellow card accumulation and sitting in the stands, Vanni Sartini made two changes from the team that started the midweek win over Austin, with Ryan Raposo in as a left wing back and Julian Gressel, returning from international duty with the US at the Gold Cup, on the right in a 3-1-4-2 formation.

Raposo had an almost immediate impact with just 99 seconds on the clock. Receiving the ball on the left from Andreas Cubas, the Canadian whipped a high cross into the box which was met by the head of White as he outjumped Mavinga for another quick opening goal for Vancouver. A lovely cross and a nice header but Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond should have done so much better.

It was just what White needed after a slew of missed chances on Wednesday and the ‘Caps kept the early pressure on with Gauld bringing out a save from Bond moments later.

The ‘Caps made it 2-0 in the 10th minute and this time Gauld wasn’t to be denied with a beautiful curling finish after a Gressel cross was deflected into his path by Mavinga.

It was almost three just minutes later when first a Gauld chip and then an Alessandro Schopf shot crashed off the bar, as Vancouver continued to move the ball around with ease and were totally in control of the game.

The Galaxy brought their first save out of Yohei Takaoka in the 15th minute with a shot from close range from Raheem Edwards,but the flag was up quickly for offside.

Mavinga’s night then went from bad to worse minutes later when he was shown a straight red after bringing down White in the box, giving away a penalty. A video review reduced that to a yellow, but as he’d been booked earlier, it was a second one and a red still followed and the visitors were reduced to 10 men with around 70 minutes left to play.

I have to say I feel it was a harsh call on Mavinga as the Galaxy defender got his foot on the ball and the obstruction on White was questionable, but Gauld stepped up to fire home the penalty and a rampant Whitecaps led by three, and the Galaxy had a veritable mountain to climb.

To their credit, the Galaxy still tried to attack and go toe to toe in a fast, free flowing game, with Tyler Boyd firing over from the edge of the box.

Gauld and Pedro Vite had chances to add to the ‘Caps tally but they had to be content to head in with the three goal lead.

And that you thought was that. It was a commanding performance from the Whitecaps, they were three goals and a man to the good, and it could and should have been more, but the Galaxy had other ideas and were allowed to turn the game into a nail bit as Vancouver gave up too much space and possession and chances to LA and they were punished for it in a stunning turnaround of fortunes.

The ‘Caps were still in control and looking comfortable despite getting away from their gameplan, but a 61st minute strike from LA captain Brugman from the edge of the box off a Riqui Puig corner suddenly gave the Galaxy some hope.

It was a poor goal to give up, from the failure to mark Brugman to the him being allowed a clear strike through a crowd of players.

At that point it didn’t look too much to be concerned about though. The Whitecaps were still having chances, with White thankful to see the flag go up for offside after he fluffed a great opportunity in front of goal after being played in by Gauld in the 66th minute.

Gauld played Gressel in six minutes later, but the German pulled his effort wide of the far post.

Then from nowhere really, the ‘Caps found their lead reduced to one when Preston Judd played in Delgado, and he finished through the legs of Takaoka to make it 3-2.

The goal came at a cost for Delgado though, who seemed to hurt his left knee or lower leg in the follow through and had to be substituted.

How the Whitecaps had made such a pig’s ear of a comfortable position can be debated later. It’s almost unforgivable to be honest and would have been if they hadn’t have seen this one out. They did though, as the Galaxy seemed to run out of steam and the ‘Caps came on strong in the closing moments.

Gauld nearly got his hat-trick in the 92nd minute when Cordova played the ball inside to the Scot, but his cheeky outside of the foot shot on goal was parried by Bond. Gauld quickly pounced on the rebound and cut the ball back to Ali Ahmed, whose shot was cleared off the line by Tony Alfaro and nearly spun back over the goal-line, and was just kept out by Bond.

Vancouver were to get their fourth two minutes later, however, when Deiber Caicedo’s shot crashed off the bar, into the path of Cordova seven yards out and the victory was finally secured.

A bit of a rollercoaster in the end. Vancouver were deserving of their victory from their first half play alone, which was one of the best halves of football, well maybe 30 minutes, that you’ll see in MLS this season. The feeling that players got too individualistic in the second half and moved away from the gameplan is something that needs to be seriously addressed. Would that have happened if Sartini had been on the bench?

The Western Conference is far too tight to throw away three goals leads and points, especially on the back of giving up the lead twice last Saturday against Seattle, but a win is a win and the ‘Caps have moved up to 7th in the West with the victory, three points above the playoff line and just one point off 5th.

They’ll have to wait over a month to try and build on these last two wins though, with the Leagues Cup and CONCACAF champions Leon next up at BC Place on Friday. That should be quite the test.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 4 – 2 LA Galaxy

ATT: 18,354


2’ – VAN – Brian White (Ryan Raposo, Andrés Cubas)
10’ – VAN – Ryan Gauld
23’ – VAN – Ryan Gauld
61’ – LAG – Gastón Brugman (Riqui Puig)
74’ – LAG – Mark Delgado (Preston Judd)
90’+4 – VAN – Sergio Córdova

Possession: VAN 51.7% – LAG 48.3%
Shots: VAN 17 – LAG 12
Shots on Goal: VAN 9 – LAG 6
Saves: VAN 4 – LAG 5
Fouls: VAN 14 – LAG 9
Offsides: VAN 2 – LAG 2
Corners: VAN 4 – LAG 7

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Tristan Blackmon, Ranko Veselinović, Luís Martins; Andrés Cubas (Sebastian Berhalter 46’); Julian Gressel (Déiber Caicedo 77’), Alessandro Schöpf (Ali Ahmed 61’), Pedro Vite (Russell Teibert 50’), Ryan Raposo; Brian White (Sergio Córdova 76’), 25.Ryan Gauld [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Levonte Johnson, Simon Becher, Matteo Campagna]

LOS ANGELES: Jonathan Bond; Lucas Calegari (Mauricio Cuevas 69’), Kelvin Leerdam, Chris Mavinga, Raheem Edwards (Julián Aude 69’); Mark Delgado (Memo Rodríguez 76’), Gastón Brugman, Riqui Puig; Douglas Costa (Tony Alfaro 46’), Dejan Joveljic (Preston Judd 68’) [Substitutes not used: Efraín Álvarez, Uri Rosell, Jonathan Klinsmann, Daniel Aguirre]




On stepping in as head coach:

“I’ll be honest, it’s a lot harder than I kind of thought, being the one that has to make decisions in these types of times, especially as the game changed in terms of momentum. It’s something that’s very, very difficult, but at the end of the day, it’s an experience that I’ve always wanted to try to go through, and now that I’ve done it, I think if I ever get the opportunity again, it’ll be just a little bit easier.”

On his teams performance in the second half compared to the first half:

“We went completely away from the plan that we had at halftime. We had a very fantastic first 30 minutes. We moved away from it a little bit in the last 15 minutes of the first half, but in general, the second half we veered away from our plan, and I think the guys turned the game into a little bit more of an individual type scenario and guys did a bit too much of what they wanted. And that’s sometimes understandable when you’re up 3-0, but I think we escaped learning a good lesson and it’s an opportunity for us to not repeat that second half.”


On how the team is growing:

“I think the older guys on the team and the leaders, guys that have been here for a couple years, I think they need to help the group and help maybe the younger guys understand kind of what it takes. I mean, you see the best teams in the league for the past couple of years, when they’re winning, they dominate and you feel it. Tonight, I don’t think we did that. And I do think we’re one of the top teams. But that’s something that we can improve on, is that when we’re up keeping our foot on the other team’s neck the whole way.”

On Ryan Gauld:

“Gauldy is unreal. He always makes the right pass. You know, when I go back and watch my own film, I could have made this pass better, this pass better, this cross, this decision. But you guys see it with Gauldy he always makes the right decision. Perfect weight of pass and just sees everything. I think that’s a guide that the team especially the younger guys can look to, obviously being our captain this year, playing a lot of minutes. He’s a guy that helps the team so much defensively. So if everyone else can kind of mimic his work rate, then I think we’ll be in a good place.”

On Gauld not getting accolades:

“I think it’s because he’s not a flashy guy, or personality, or I don’t know. It’s very typical of the league to not give props to us in Vancouver, but I think that’s a mentality that we take on. It’s fine. I don’t think he wants that. I don’t think the team looks at it like it’s a big deal. We know what he’s capable of and it shows every time he plays.”


On his fine form as of late:

“Its just kind of, I don’t know, getting into the right positions and either the boys finding me in the right areas or them putting away the chances I create. There’s not much more to it. Thankfully, I’ve just been kind of popping up in the right areas and hope it continues.”

On not getting selected for accolades such as the All-Star Game:

“To be honest I couldn’t care less about what accolades I get. I do my best to help the boys in that changing room, to help the staff. I think they appreciate my work rate and my effort, and that’s all I can ask for. I don’t care about publicity, All-Star games and all that stuff. Not that I think I deserve it, because my form at the start of the season wasn’t good enough to be included in that kind of stuff. Lately I’m helping the team, and that’s what matters. Hopefully we keep moving up the table, whether that’s through me or through Brian [White] scoring, Julian [Gressel] is back, Ali [Ahmed] is back. They’re a big help. Whoever it comes through, the most important thing is that we get into a good position by the end of the season.”

On playing in the Leagues Cup and getting some longer breaks in between games:

“I think as a team we’re excited to play this Leagues Cup and, obviously, against Leon who are a really good team. We’re looking forward to that experience, and depending on how far we go, I don’t believe there’s going to be like a game every three to four days, kind of how we’ve had in the league, so its going to give us some time to recover. A lot of the boys have played a lot of minutes over the past month, six weeks, so now we’re going back to playing just every six seven days. Its going to give us time to recover and work on things on the training ground, the kind of things we could’ve used tonight in having more patience, more possession, being better structured. Although we’ve got some exciting and good games coming up, and we’ll play the Galaxy again obviously, but it gives us that extra little time in between to kind of rest and, hopefully get to a hundred percent.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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