Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy are back to winning on the road. It wasn’t easy against Martin Rennie’s Vancouver Whitecaps, but they were able to apply some pressure to Real Salt Lake in their 1-0 victory at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, B.C.
With the win, the Galaxy improve to 12-9-4 (40 points) and will end up no worse than third in the MLS Western Conference by the end of the weekend. Here are six things we learned from the Galaxy’s triumph in Canada.
1. Donovan and LA strike early
Early on in the first half, Landon Donovan broke through in the third minute to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead. Vancouver’s defense made a mistake in overcommiting to Robbie Keane, and Donovan ended up earning his seventh goal of the season and 131st MLS career goal.
Keane himself nearly capitalized on a breakaway in the sixth minute but he and Donovan failed to connect. The match started to settle down into a ball possession battle, with the Caps taking the upper hand in possession. A shot in the 10th minute from Vancouver just missed wide right. A pass from Donovan nearly found Zardes in the 13th minute, but LD ran out of space.
Russell Teibert has had a hotstreak going against Los Angeles, and he hoped to keep it going in the 14th minute but his cross was snuffed out. Seconds later, ace Caps striker Kenny Miller committed a handball from close distance.
2. The finish lacking in the middle of the first
LA aren’t the type of team that sits on these types of precarious leads because they know that players like Darren Mattocks can equalize immediately. Vancouver almost did in the 18th minute through Darren Mattocks. In the 21st minute, Leonardo butchered a cross from Donovan that went over the bar. A volley from Keane in the 25th minute just missed the top right corner.
Marcelo Sarvas’s cross in the 27th minute tried to find Donovan, but Whitecaps backup goalkeeper David Ousted, who had the start tonight, collected the key pass. Miller almost broke through at the half-hour mark but Mattocks was offsides.
3. Los Angeles take the ascendancy at the break
Donovan and Keane looked for a second, but Keane’s volley in the 32nd minute missed wide right and didn’t trouble Ousted. Mattocks again was offsides in the 35th minute of play, and that didn’t please Rennie. Johnny Leveron had to put the clamps down on Keane seconds later. In the 38th minute, a shot from Jordan Harvey was collected by Jaime Penedo.
Another chance from Leveron on the rebound in the 44th minute missed wide left. Hector Jimenez attempted a cross in the 45th minute but the pass was intercepted. Vancouver did well to stop the bleeding after the goal from Donovan, but LA needed to do better to add to their advantage in the second half.
Vancouver Whitecaps LA Galaxy
2 Attempts on Goal 6
0 Shots on Target 1
2 Shots off Target 3
0 Blocked Shots 2
1 Corner Kicks 1
4 Fouls 6
9 Open Play Crosses 7
2 Offsides 0
0 First Yellow Cards 0
0 Second Yellow Cards 0
0 Red Cards 0
21 Duels Won 19
53% Duels Won % 48%
255 Total Pass 207
78% Passing Accuracy % 77%
55.4% Possession 44.6%
4. Another slow start to the second half
At the start of the second half, Vancouver went on the offensive, looking for a spark, but the Galaxy backline were determined to hold firm this half. Substitute Kekuta Manneh delivered a shot in the 50th minute but it was collected by Penedo. A delivery from Keane to Donovan missed in the 52nd minute.
Miller had to be kicking himself in the 53rd minute for an equalizer that was literally served on a platter. Teibert’s next delivery a minute later was collected by the Panamanian international. Gershon Koffie was cautioned in the 55th minute for a harsh challenge on Marcelo Sarvas. A.J. DeLaGarza had an opportunity in the 58th minute but he should have done better.
5. A defensive struggle midway through the second half
With the match starting to lose its punch, risks needed to be taken by both Rennie and Arena to accelerate the pace and add some spice. Donovan almost had his brace in the 61st minute but Ousted was there to sweep. Nigel Reo-Coker saw his attempt go over in the 63rd minute. A one-time pass from Donovan to Keane didn’t connect two minutes later.
Manneh’s next chance in the 69th minute was wasted. In the 72nd minute, Miller was once again contained by Omar Gonzalez and Penedo. Lee Young-Pyo was cautioned in the 73rd for fouling Donovan. A long ball in the 74th minute was in the direction of Gonzalez but the defender could not receive the pass.
6. Jaime Penedo, take a bow
As with a number of matches this season, this contest would go down to crunch time. By definition, this is the last 15 minutes and stoppage. Historically, this is the point in the match where Los Angeles plays the type of defense its fans come to love…and later, loathe. With offensive production now stagnant, the Galaxy needed to win this part of the contest.
A corner in the 81st minute was saved by Jaime Penedo in what is sure to be one of those Save of the Week nominees. Todd Harvey was capable of winning that 1-v-1 after Manneh missed the first shot, but that showed the fans at BC Place Penedo’s international pedigree. In the 85th minute, a through ball for Gyasi Zardes from Robbie Keane almost connected.
Stoppage time arrived, and Penedo took a blow from Reo-Coker and it took him two minutes to recover from his knock. Keane should have done better in the fifth minute of stoppage time to ice the match but his shot missed wide left.
In the end, that save by Penedo in the 81st minute was crucial for the Galaxy, and it keeps them in convention for a spot in the postseason.
|Vancouver Whitecaps||LA Galaxy|
|12||Attempts on Goal||8|
|5||Shots on Target||1|
|7||Shots off Target||4|
|26||Open Play Crosses||11|
|3||First Yellow Cards||0|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|41%||Duels Won %||57%|
|78%||Passing Accuracy %||75%|