Report and Reaction: Whitecaps get wake up call as wasteful White costs them dear in Galaxy defeat

Report and Reaction: Whitecaps get wake up call as wasteful White costs them dear in Galaxy defeat

Vancouver Whitecaps were sent crashing back down to earth at BC Place on Saturday night. A week after a dominant display against Toronto that saw them on top of the world and on top of the West, the ‘Caps felt like an away team at home again as the visiting LA Galaxy put them to the sword in a 3-1 victory that left you feeling a bit of anger and disappointment at how Vancouver approached this one and frustrated at the amount of squandered chances the team wasted, with Brian White the main offender.

White did bring the Whitecaps level with a 77th minute header that cancelled out Dejan Joveljic’s opener for LA 20 minutes earlier, but the American could already have had a hat-trick by that point, wasting chance after chance to put Vancouver ahead and those misses were to cost Vancouver badly.

The ‘Caps allowed the Galaxy to dominate the first half play, with their possession stats sitting at 21% at one point. LA didn’t do much with all that possession, but they certainly made the most of it in the second half, taking the lead before Vancouver finally woke up. When the Whitecaps tied things up, you felt they then had the momentum to push on and take all three points but the game was over for them within five minutes of drawing level with first Joseph Paintsil and then Diego Fagundez punished poor defensive play and allowing LA to leave with all three points.

Vanni Sartini was forced to make one change to the starting line-up from the team that dismantled Toronto as week ago, with Tristan Blackmon returning to the backline for the injured Bjorn Inge Utvik.

LA started the more aggressive, dominating the play and forcing the first real save of the game when Yohei Takaoka had to dive to turn away a Gabriel Pec strike in the 9th minute.

The ‘Caps, who were already struggling to get any offensive threat going, were dealt a blow when Fafa Picault was forced out of the game with an injury 15 minutes in, replaced by Pedro Vite. How much this affected Vancouver’s performance we’ll never know, but they certainly lost an offensive spark and no-one stepped up to fill that void.

Being outpossessed 76-24% 25 minutes into the match, Vancouver finally had their first real look on goal in the 28th minute when White was sprung with a long ball forward, ran in on goal, but pulled his shot just past the far post when he really had to score.

White was set up again in the 33rd minute when a cross in from Ryan Raposo was met perfectly by the striker but his header threatened the corner flag more than the net.

Paintsil brought a save out of Takaoka in the 37th minute with a shot across goal and Gaston Brugman flashed one narrowly wide in the last minute of the half, but the teams went in level at the half.

LA started the second half as they finished the first and Pec crashed a header off the bar from a Riqui Puig cross in the 49th minute, with Brugman pulling the rebound wide.

They responded and had a great chance to take the lead in the 55th minute when White was played in, racing in on goal once again, only to be denied by the outstretched leg of John McCarthy. A great stop, and hindsight’s a great thing, but the chip over the advancing keeper looked the way to go, but White had to make a split second decision. Unfortunately for Vancouver, he made the wrong one.

It was to prove a costly miss as LA immediately broke up the field and opened the scoring.

Riqui Puig tore forward and with a couple of options played the ball out wide for Pec. The Brazilian’s shot was turned away by Takaoka, but the rebound fell to a wide open Joveljic, who made no mistake from a few yards out.

Spurred into life, the ‘Caps almost hit back on the hour mark when White pounced on a poor passback, looked to have rounded the advancing McCarthy, but the Galaxy keeper recovered superbly to throw himself at the ball and turn it away for a corner. It was another fantastic play by the Galaxy goalkeeper but White’s hesitation when he should have got a shot off allowed it to happen.

Vancouver kept the pressure on and Alessandro Schopf forced McCarthy into a diving save, with the rebound falling favourably for the Galaxy and it was cleared for another corner.

The ‘Caps kept pushing, with the Galaxy defence bending but not breaking. They were eventually breached in the 77th minute and it was the Brian/Ryan connection that did the damage once again, this time with White rising to head home a Gauld corner.

It was no less than the Whitecaps deserved but it was also frustrating as to where this attacking play had been in the first half and how many chances it took for White to finally find the back of the net.

Adding to that frustration was the short lived parity, for within five minutes of tying things up, the ‘Caps found themselves two goals behind as the Galaxy struck twice on quick counters, with some clinical finishing.

Paintsil restored LA’s lead in the 80th minute when he timed his run to perfection to stay onside and get onto a perfectly weighted Riqui Puig through ball to slot past Takaoka and silence what had been a celebratory BC Place crowd.

The crowd were silenced further less than two minutes later.

This time Paintsil turned provider, hitting the byeline before cutting it back to Fagundez to score the visitors’ third and put the game to bed.

The ‘Caps looked shellshocked but they regrouped and tried to force something late, with the best chance being a Damir Kreilach header in the 89th minute that McCarthy tipped away.

The ‘Caps kept pushing into stoppage time with McCarthy denying them again, this time from a Gauld shot, before Kreilach summed up Vancouver’s night in front of goal, pulling a cross wide left with the net gaping.

A disappointing end to the Whitecaps’ four-game home stand. That’s eight points Vancouver have now dropped at home in their five games at BC Place. As good as this team is, that is not conducive to being a top four side, never mind title contenders. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly from the team in those five games, with a lot of it on display against the Galaxy.

There wasn’t a huge gulf in quality between the teams. Vancouver showed in their spell of dominance in the second half what an exciting team they can be and their attacking threat. It’s just when they’re off, they look a whole different prospect. Sartini feels it was all down to losing their defensive structure and moving away from their gameplan because they got too excited when they scored. There’s truth in that, as unexciting as it was to watch them just soak up the pressure at home in the first half, but the match did show that the addition of another creative midfielder and finding a proven goalscorer to at least challenge White for the starting number 9 spot, should be priorities and what is needed for this team to take the next big step.

With a trip down the I5 next up, we need to see the exciting Whitecaps back, doing to the Sounders what the Galaxy did to the ‘Caps in the first half and taking the game to them. I worry we may see more of what we did tonight and they’ll be punished for it. We’ll soon find out.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 3 LA Galaxy

ATT: 25,026

SCORING SUMMARY:
57’ – LAG – Dejan Joveljić
77’ – VAN – Brian White (Ryan Gauld)
80’ – LAG – Joseph Paintsil (Riqui Puig)
82’ – LAG – Diego Fagúndez (Joseph Paintsil, Riqui Puig)

STATS:
Possession: VAN 41.9% – LAG 58.1%
Shots: VAN 18 – LAG 12
Shots on Goal: VAN 7 – LAG 5
Saves: VAN 2 – LAG 6
Fouls: VAN 8 – LAG 8
Offsides: VAN 0 – LAG 1
Corners: VAN 10 – LAG 7

CAUTIONS:
20’ – VAN – Andrés Cubas
25’ – LAG – Miki Yamane
45’+2 – VAN – Ranko Veselinović
54’ – VAN – Ali Ahmed
85’ – VAN – Brian White

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Mathías Laborda, Ranko Veselinović (Levonte Johnson 84’), Tristan Blackmon; Ryan Raposo (Sam Adekugbe 45’), Andrés Cubas (Damir Kreilach 85’), Alessandro Schöpf (Sebastian Berhalter 84’), Ali Ahmed; Ryan Gauld, Brian White, Fafà Picault (Pedro Vite 16’) [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Ralph Priso, Luis Martins, Javain Brown]

LOS ANGELES: John McCarthy; Miki Yamane (Mauricio Cuevas 86’), Maya Yoshida, Martín Cáceres, Julian Aude; Marky Delgado (Daniel Aguirre 86’), Gastón Brugman (Edwin Cerrillo 74’), Riqui Puig; Gabriel Pec (Diego Fagúndez 74’), Dejan Joveljić (Miguel Berry 78’), Joseph Paintsil [Substitutes not used: Novak Micovic, John Nelson, Jonathan Pérez, Gino Vivi]

REACTION:

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

VANNI SARTINI

On the game and his team’s performance:

“The game was hard, but good, against a very good team and they showed that they’re a really good team. But we showed that we are a really good team too. And I am really, really, really, really, really hurt by the way that we lost. By the way we conceded the second, I think it’s the massive learning opportunity for that, if we get away from the our principles, from our way of playing, our defensive structure, it’s over.”

On the defensive structure and mentality in the first 80 minutes of the match:

“What we did very well today against a team that in the first half was extremely good at building up, so breaking our first pressure, we were very good and very organized to drop and then having the players in front of them. And we had a first half where they had 80% possession, but the two biggest chances were our chances. The only chance that they had was a shot from distance that Yohei saved the goal. On the first goal, I think we’re very unlucky. I know that sounds like, ‘ehh, unlucky’ but we could have scored in front of the net, we’re in front of the net and we could have scored, and for the transition we were well positioned. Ali [Ahmed] kind of made a little mistake, and they’re a top team so we concede on the transition, okay, no problem. We said that we would concede, but then we kept playing really well, defending really well, being very, very structured, keeping the structure, and we arrive after two, three great chances to score the goal.”

On losing in the last 20 minutes of the game:

“We’ve been not mature enough. We score a goal, 80 minutes. We show that we can arrive in the box and score at any moment, we just need to defend well and keep our structure. We have to do the things we are supposed to do, we have to mark the space and not roam around and press and man mark and concede that second goal. That is totally my fault because when the team doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do, it’s my fault at the end and we need to work at it. But it’s a knife to my heart, it really is because it’s the worst way to lose, because it’s all our fault. We need to know it’s all our fault. Because if we are, two, three minutes just a little bit more patient, and we defend well, we win. Not draw, we win, and I’m so pissed about it because of that.”

RYAN GAULD

Thoughts on the match:
 
“I think as we grew into the game, we opened up a little bit, and they’ve got a lot of quality on the counter. The first goal was just a really good counter attack from them and then I think it was the third one as well was a good counter. I think just as we grew into the game, it opened up and that gave their good players a lot more space to create stuff.”

On fighting back:

“I would say the boys we’ve got, we’re not going to give up. We’re all aware in the first half, we didn’t have a lot of the ball, we didn’t really do that great in the first half of the night. We knew we needed to come out and be better in the second half. I think up until the goal, we were better and then after [Brian White’s] goal as well, we kind of took more control. I would say it’s just down to the group that we’ve got, we’re not going to give up until it’s over. Unfortunately we conceded two not long after scoring, and that kind of killed it off.”

On halftime adjustments:

“It was just a couple of little tweaks that we could have made to allow us to be a little more aggressive and pressing. We knew, and then Vanni reinforced it, that we just need to be better with the ball. We had maybe one or two spells in the first half where we actually kept it and moved it a little bit, and we got a little bit of joy, a couple of half chances, but we didn’t do enough of it. In the second half we did see more of the ball, unfortunately everything just opened up and they beat us on the counter.”

BRIAN WHITE

On the chances:

“There were a couple of chances, especially early. The one ball Ryan played over the top. Goals change games, and I wasn’t able to put the first couple chances in the back of the net, but that’s sometimes how things go. You’ve just got to keep going, keep fighting and be ready for any chance that comes and believe that they’re going to go in. And fortunately we got one to equalize it, but we weren’t able to take the lead. Obviously, like I said before, if I was able to put some of those chances away earlier it would have changed the game a bit and we would come in here with three points, but it is what it is. You know we learn from these moments and we move forward.”

On the result:

“I think you take every loss, every time that you drop points, you take it on a chin and move forward. It’s a long season, our seventh game, plenty of games left. There’s a lot of points on the table for us to stay high up in the table and make a good season out of it and hopefully we can do something memorable. But we dropped three points, we learn from our mistakes and move forward.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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