Finally, Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy figured out how to close out a match with authority.
Up 2-1 with fifteen minutes to go, the Galaxy aimed towards playing aggressive defense to counter the aggressive waves of attack from Martin Rennie’s Vancouver Whitecaps at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The 2-1 result stood, and the Galaxy made up some ground on the teams near the top of the MLS Western Conference.
Still, there is much work to be done if the Galaxy are to be assured of a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs. With Real Salt Lake’s loss earlier in the day, the hope for LA to catch up burns bright. Here are six things we learned from Saturday night’s encounter between Los Angeles and Vancouver.
1. Camilo’s hotstreak continues
No one in Major League Soccer can stop Camilo Sanvezzo from scoring when he is on a hotstreak. On Vancouver’s best sequence of the night, Russell Teibert and Lee Young-Pyo teamed up to send a delivery to Camilo on the left side. Omar Gonzalez, who donned the captain’s armband, failed to account for Camilo, who notted his 13th goal of the season.
2. Villareal equalizes amid controversy
10 minutes later, Gonzalez and Juninho teamed up to give Jose Villareal one that slot home through. It looked as if Gyasi Zardes touched the ball, which would have ruled it offsides. But referee Chris Penso had a better look of the ball and it was ruled a goal, causing the Whitecaps players to surround him, incensed by the call.
3. Gyasi Zardes delivers poetic justice
Zardes was apparently annoyed himself that he was being called out by Vancouver for being offsides in the 29th minute, so he chose to set the record straight. In the 57th minute, Dunivant found a streaking Zardes, who used his speed to force goalkeeper Brad Knighton into a 1-v-1, resulting in his third goal of the season.
4. Kenny Miller, Russell Teibert held in check by Galaxy defense
Two players that Los Angeles had to shut down were Kenny Miller and Russell Teibert. The Galaxy were partially successful with Teibert, as he was able to earn an assist on the Camilo goal. But for Miller, the Galaxy keyed on him, and Carlo Cudicini, despite not earning a shutout, delivered the save of the match in the 73rd minute, when his right shin deflected Miller’s best attempt of the night. That is sure to be an MLS Save of the Week nominee, if not winner.
5. A statement game for Omar Gonzalez
This is the first time this season that Omar Gonzalez was given the captain’s armband ahead of what most MLS circles consider an inevitable call-up to the USA Men’s National Team. Despite going a goal down, Gonzalez was able to coordinate his defense to limit the damage, while setting up waves of attacks that frustrated Vancouver for the full 95 minutes.
6. A testament of the Galaxy’s depth
With no Landon Donovan and no Robbie Keane, the Galaxy had to rely on their youth and Gonzalez’s leadership to steer the way. Of course, Pablo Mastroeni assisted in getting the job done too, as this was his first-ever start for the Galaxy.
The match statistics are astounding and make this scoreline quite flattering for Vancouver. Los Angeles dominated a number of key categories and could have built on their scoreline had it not been for the efforts of Knighton and Whitecaps defender Brad Rusin, who stopped an early would-be goal for LA minutes in.
|LA Galaxy||Vancouver Whitecaps|
|22||Attempts on Goal||4|
|6||Shots on Target||2|
|10||Shots off Target||0|
|18||Open Play Crosses||7|
|1||First Yellow Cards||3|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|44%||Duels Won %||55%|
|81%||Passing Accuracy %||73%|