Whitecaps FC season ends after disappointing playoff loss in LA
Highlights: LA Galaxy 2 - 1 Whitecaps FC
CARSON, CA - Playing their first-ever match in the MLS Cup Playoffs, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (0W-1L-0D) suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat at defending Major League Soccer champions LA Galaxy (1W-0L-0D) on Thursday evening.
In what was a valiant effort against the odds, Whitecaps FC took a very early lead with an historic first MLS playoff goal by Darren Mattocks. However, the Galaxy’s second-half pressure paid dividends, as a fine equalizer by Mike Magee set up Landon Donovan to win this Western Conference First Round Knockout match for LA from the penalty spot.
The result brings Whitecaps FC’s second season in MLS to a disappointing end, while the Galaxy continue their MLS Cup title defence with a two-leg clash versus MLS Supporters’ Shield winners San Jose Earthquakes in the Western Conference Semifinals.
A sizable contingent of Whitecaps FC supporters at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California were treated to a dream start on three minutes, as Mattocks scored the first goal by a Canadian club in the MLS Cup Playoffs with the game’s first shot on target.
Fine work by Matt Watson on the left flank saw the Englishman make a darting run into the Galaxy box and cut the ball back to Mattocks in front of goal. The Jamaican international alertly redirected a first-time shot into the far corner of the net for a 1-0 ‘Caps lead.
It was a stunning start to the game, and the rest of the opening half saw LA search in vain for an equalizer. Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Brad Knighton denied Juninho and Robbie Keane before stopping David Beckham on one of his trademark free kicks in first-half stoppage time.
Despite more Galaxy pressure after the break, the match did not turn in favour of the MLS Cup holders until after the midway point of the second half. On 68 minutes, Whitecaps FC missed a big opportunity to extend their lead when Watson had his shot saved by Saunders before substitute Kenny Miller and Barry Robson failed to convert on the rebound.
A minute later, LA drew level through a superb volleyed strike by Magee, who was found unmarked in the Whitecaps FC box by Juninho’s fine cross after Beckham played a short corner to his Brazilian teammate on the right flank.
In the aftermath of LA’s equalizer, Martin Bonjour had to replace an injured Jay DeMerit. On 73 minutes, the Argentine defender was involved in the decisive moment of the match, as match referee Silviu Petrescu adjudged the Vancouver substitute to have taken down Donovan in the ‘Caps box for a Galaxy penalty. The United States international stepped up to put home the match winner with his right foot and make it 2-1 to LA.
The visitors tried their best to turn the match around in the final stages, as the Galaxy eased off from pressing forward after claiming the lead. Three minutes of stoppage time were played before the final whistle brought Whitecaps FC’s playoff adventure to a brief and sudden end in Southern California.
Whitecaps FC would like to thank our supporters and partners for a memorable 2012 season! We look forward to seeing you all again at BC Place and around MLS in 2013!
Budweiser Man of the Match: Andy O'Brien
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
3' - VAN - Darren Mattocks (Matt Watson)
69' - LA - Mike Magee (Juninho, David Beckham)
73' - LA - Landon Donovan (penalty)
43' - LA - Juninho
71' - VAN - Martin Bonjour
72' - VAN - Young-Pyo Lee
87' - LA - Marcelo Sarvas
12.Josh Saunders; 2.Todd Dunivant, 4.Omar Gonzalez, 21.Tommy Meyer, 16.Hector Jimenez (8.Marcelo Sarvas 52'); 10.Landon Donovan, 19.Juninho (26.Michael Stephens 83'), 23.David Beckham, 18.Mike Magee; 7.Robbie Keane, 14.Edson Buddle
Substitutes not used: 24.Brian Perk, 29.Andrew Boyens, 32.Jack McBean, 33.Jose Villarreal, 35.Bryan Gaul
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18.Brad Knighton; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 40.Andy O'Brien, 6.Jay DeMerit (15.Martin Bonjour 70'), 3.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie, 4.Alain Rochat, 11.John Thorrington, 16.Matt Watson (20.Dane Richards 80'); 14.Barry Robson, 22.Darren Mattocks (7.Kenny Miller 59')
Substitutes not used: 1.Joe Cannon, 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 31.Russell Teibert, 37.Camilo Sanvezzo