It was a tale of two halves, a tale of two cities, but in the end, home field advantage won out and won the day for Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy over Martin Rennie’s Vancouver Whitecaps in an exciting yet frustrating 2-1 victory at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The victory means that the California Clasico with the San Joser Earthquakes is going to go on for two more games this month.
Let’s take a look at six things we learned from this entertaining encounter at Victoria Street.
1. Darren Mattocks hushes the crowd
It seemed as if the upset was brewing, an upset of the ages. Toronto FC had the Galaxy number in the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, and it looked like Vancouver would continue Canada’s track record against Los Angeles in the games that matter.
Four minutes into the contest, Darren Mattocks, who was touted in the 10 Bold Predictions earlier this week, delivered just three minutes into the match thanks to poor marking from Hector Jimenez, who was forced to fill in the backline after Sean Franklin was injured. Well, that is why you play in the midfield and not in the back, Jimenez.
As for the rookie Mattocks, if there was a time to finally score on LA, he never picked a much better time than Thursday night at the Home Depot Center.
2. Yellow card for Juninho just part of sorry first half for LA
The first half was lamentable from Los Angeles. The Galaxy had an embarassment of corners and their possession was offensively one-sided (73.1 percent to 28.9 percent) as was the attempts on goal (12 to three), but their finishing was nonexistent, and the 43rd-minute yellow card by Juninho just added to an unpleasant opening stanza reminiscent to their 12 defeats of the regular season.
3. Brad Knighton, the man of the match for Vancouver
It has yet to be seen whether or not Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Brad Knighton will become the starting goalkeeper next season. But great goalkeepers make clutch saves and collections, and Knighton’s work on Thursday should have him considered for a call-up in the future.
Or will it?
4. Mike Magee equalizes in the 69th minute for LA
In close games, clutch performers often strike when you least expect them to. In the second half, Mike Magee finally got the Galaxy back on track after so many wasted chances for the first 69 minute of the contest. Top left corner, close range. Knighton was helpless to stop it.
5. Landon Donovan converts in the 73rd minute
That Magee call triggered the comeback. Pardon the anon-speak here, but a yellow card issued to Martin “Le Choke Face” Bonjour for fouling Landon Donovan in the 71st minute triggered a penalty on the spot. And then two minutes later, the oft-injured, oft-embattled, oft-off on all cylinders Donovan scored a go-ahead penalty in the 73rd minute of play.
6. Los Angeles take on San Jose in the semifinals
After rallying in the second half, the Galaxy won’t have much time to rest because they have the best team in the league, hands down, up next in the San Jose Earthquakes. The first leg is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 4.