Los Angeles Galaxy defeat Whitecaps FC in closed-door contest

Birchall and Angel with the goals

Playing their third training match in four days, Vancouver Whitecaps FC suffered a 2-0 defeat to MLS Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy on Monday morning.

First-half goals by Chris Birchall and Juan Pablo Angel gave Bruce Arena's side victory in a closed-door contest at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Whitecaps FC had their chances to score during Monday's contest, but a lack of finish and fine goalkeeping by the Galaxy's Donovan Ricketts meant the plaudits went to the Southern California outfit.

"I think we played well in the first half, especially the first 25 minutes," Whitecaps FC head coach Teitur Thordarson told reporters after the match. "We created a lot of chances before halftime, as we had the intent to push forward and attack. In the second half, I thought Los Angeles had more of the possession and played the ball with good tempo. That caused us some problems, though they didn't create that much after the break. Although it was a defeat today, everybody knows we are here in Arizona for training, and that we are working on certain things."

Thordarson played an experienced starting XI versus the Galaxy, who in turn, fielded a very experienced side in Monday's training match. One notable absentee was Galaxy star David Beckham.

Looking to make an impression against one of the top sides in MLS, Whitecaps FC made a very bright start to the game. Just five minutes in, Ricketts was called on to make a save from Vancouver's Brazilian trialist Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo after Swiss playmaker Davide Chiumiento had fed the South American striker. Three minutes later, right-sided winger Shea Salinas got past the experienced Frankie Hejduk before his pass was cleared for a 'Caps corner.

As Vancouver looked the more likely to score first, the Galaxy took the lead against the run of play on 26 minutes. After a turnover in midfield, Landon Donovan feed Uruguayan midfielder Paolo Cardozo. The South American then slipped a through ball to Trinidad & Tobago international Birchall, who was able to beat Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Jay Nolly with a low strike for a 1-0 Los Angeles lead.

Though disappointed to be trailing, Whitecaps FC made more chances before the break, with midfielder Terry Dunfield chipping an effort wide of goal on 33 minutes, while Ricketts saved a Chiumiento 40-yard free kick four minutes later. On 38 minutes, Nizar Khalfan was off-target with a shot from the left-hand side.

Vancouver would regret those missed opportunities, as the Galaxy extended their lead on 44 minutes. Cardozo found Juninho on the left before the Brazilian midfielder's shot forced a save from Nolly. The rebound was followed up Colombian star Angel, who slid in to finish for a 2-0 Los Angeles lead at halftime.

The 'Caps made changes in the second half, including their attacking pair of Sanvezzo and Chiumiento for Long Tan and Atiba Harris on 58 minutes. The two substitutes both had a very good chance to pull a goal back for the 'Caps seven minutes later, as Harris was unable to get a shot off one-on-one with Ricketts, and Tan could not find the target from 20 yards out, with the keeper out of his net.

Thordarson was pleased his younger players performed well off the substitutes' bench. "They went in and I felt they did a good job," said the former Iceland international striker. "They are young players that have never played at this level before, so it was good for them to get a taste of playing a top MLS team."

Meanwhile, Los Angeles created more chances to extend their lead, with Birchall forcing another save from Nolly before hitting the post with a rocket shot on 82 minutes. A minute later, Galaxy substitute Leonardo struck the top of the Whitecaps FC crossbar from a Donovan free kick.

In the end, it was Los Angeles that claimed a two-goal victory, with Whitecaps FC and the Galaxy set to face each other again in another closed-door match at Arizona State University on Tuesday. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. PT.

Scoring summary:
26' - LA - Chris Birchall (Paolo Cardozo, Landon Donovan)
44' - LA – Juan Pablo Angel (Juninho)

Cautions:
68' - VAN - Terry Dunfield

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18.Jay Nolly; 4.Alain Rochat, 6.Jay DeMerit (34.Bilal Duckett 72'), 33.Michael Boxall, 25.Jonathan Leathers (8.Wes Knight 45'); 29.Nizar Khalfan (12.Russell Teibert 72'), 7.Terry Dunfield, 11.John Thorrington (32.Jeb Brovsky 72'), 22.Shea Salinas (39.Cornelius Stewart 84'); 20.Davide Chiumiento (9.Atiba Harris 58'), 36.Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo (23.Long Tan 58')

Los Angeles Galaxy
1.Donovan Ricketts; 20.A.J. DeLaGarza, 4.Omar Gonzalez, 3.Gregg Berhalter (22.Leonardo 80'), 6.Frankie Hejduk (2.Todd Dunivant 78'), 7.Jovan Kirovski; 30.Paolo Cardozo (26.Michael Stephens 72'), 19.Juninho (25.Miguel Lopez 72'), 8.Chris Birchall; 10.Landon Donovan, 9.Juan Pablo Angel (27.Bryan Jordan 84')