Making their second Major League Soccer visit to Southern California, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-14L-10D) suffered a 3-0 away defeat to top MLS club LA Galaxy (16W-3L-10D) on Saturday evening.
Two goals by Mike Magee sent the Galaxy to their 10th home win of 2011, with recent acquisition Robbie Keane also getting on the scoresheet for the runaway MLS Western Conference leaders. Though they created chances and had a couple of penalty appeals at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, Whitecaps FC could not capitalize against a Galaxy side that bounced back from a midweek CONCACAF Champions League defeat to Monarcas Morelia in Mexico.
Saturday's defeat leaves the Blue and White with one more opportunity to claim their first away win in MLS this season, as they will make a trip to FC Dallas in Texas next month. The loss in LA also ends Vancouver's unbeaten run in the league at two matches. The Galaxy, meanwhile, take their home record this season to an impressive 10W-0L-5D, with LA also extending their unbeaten run in MLS to five matches.
Following an encouraging 1-1 draw at New York Red Bulls, Soehn made one change to the starting XI that earned last weekend's result. Jonathan Leathers returned to right fullback in place of the injured John Thorrington. For goalkeeper Joe Cannon, Saturday's game marked his 300th regular season appearance in MLS, as he faced one of his former clubs. With the start against the Galaxy, Cannon became only the 16th player in the league to reach that appearance milestone. Meanwhile, Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena - who moved into second for most regular season wins by an MLS coach with victory 125 on Saturday - started his three Designated Players in former England captain David Beckham, American star Landon Donovan, and Republic of Ireland international Keane.
A pleasant Southern California evening greeted a passionate crowd of 22,959, and they would not be disappointed by the effort of the home side, as LA used their skill and ability to eventually pull away from their Canadian opponents. The first half saw the league's top club impose themselves on the Blue and White for large spells, but to their credit, Whitecaps FC were a threat going forward and kept Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders on his toes.
The first quarter of an hour was bright and positive from Vancouver, who forced Saunders into saves from Davide Chiumiento and Alain Rochat, while left fullback Jordan Harvey volleyed a fierce strike over the LA crossbar following a Camilo corner. The Galaxy, meanwhile, saw their big players get involved early on. Keane forced a good save from Cannon after taking a clever Beckham free-kick pass on nine minutes, while 'Budweiser Man of the Match' Jay DeMerit did well to block a Donovan shot away for a corner two minutes later.
The 'Caps were then dealt a blow for next weekend's Cascadia Cup clash versus Seattle Sounders FC, as Rochat picked up his fifth yellow card of the season from match referee Michael Kennedy following a collision with Magee in midfield on 17 minutes. The booking means the defender will miss next Saturday's derby clash through suspension.
The Galaxy applied more good pressure after Rochat's booking, but Vancouver made a positive reply in the late stages of the opening half. Winger Shea Salinas just missed the far post with a curling strike on 29 minutes before Eric Hassli did well to test Saunders with a low drive three minutes later. On 35 minutes, Camilo went down in the Galaxy box following a challenge from Galaxy right fullback Bryan Jordan. Referee Kennedy, however, waved away the Brazilian's penalty appeals.
It proved a telling moment, as LA then opened the scoring on 40 minutes from a Whitecaps FC turnover. Two of the Galaxy's key players were involved in the goal, with Beckham feeding Keane on the left flank. The Irishman then picked out a streaking Magee with a well-played ball into the six-yard box, and the LA attacker beat Cannon at the near post for his fourth goal of the season and a 1-0 Galaxy lead at the break.
It was disappointing again for Vancouver to be a goal down at halftime, but they made a bright beginning to the second half and applied some decent pressure in the first 15 minutes after the restart. Then on 62 minutes, a moment that arguably changed the match occurred in the Galaxy box, as A.J. DeLaGarza looked to have pulled down Camilo for what looked a certain penalty. Once again, referee Kennedy waved Vancouver's strong appeals away for a spot kick.
Like in the first half, that decision soon developed into a Galaxy goal, as LA struck again on 64 minutes. Jordan took advantage of time and space on the right flank to pick out an unmarked Keane in front of Whitecaps FC goal with a perfect cross. The Irishman ruthlessly placed his free header into the near-post corner for his second goal in MLS.
Keane's clinical strike seemed to deflate the 'Caps, despite chances for Salinas and Hassli shortly after the second LA goal. Even the fresh legs of Long Tan and Mustapha Jarju made little impact for the visitors, as the Galaxy sealed the win with a second goal from Magee on 75 minutes. Once again, Jordan had plenty of time and space to play a fine cross into the 'Caps box. This time, he picked out an unmarked Magee, who placed a fine header into the far corner of Vancouver's goal for his fifth goal of the season and a 3-0 Galaxy lead. Magee's second goal capped a solid performance by LA come the final whistle.
Vancouver will look to pick themselves up and prepare for two historic home matches, starting with the club's final game on Bell Pitch at Empire Field next Saturday night, as Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC visit East Vancouver for a Cascadia Cup clash. LA, meanwhile, return to CONCACAF Champions League action when they visit Liga Deportiva Alajuelense in Costa Rica on Wednesday before visiting MLS Eastern Conference high-flyers Columbus Crew next Saturday.
40' - LA - Mike Magee (Robbie Keane)
64' - LA - Robbie Keane (Bryan Jordan)
75' - LA - Mike Magee (Bryan Jordan)
Shots: Los Angeles 10 - Vancouver 13
Shots on Goal: Los Angeles 4 - Vancouver 4
Saves: Los Angeles 4 - Vancouver 1
Fouls: Los Angeles 11 - Vancouver 15
Offsides: Los Angeles 2 - Vancouver 3
Corners: Los Angeles 7 - Vancouver 5
17' - VAN - Alain Rochat
28' - VAN - Gershon Koffie
62' - VAN - Eric Hassli
12.Josh Saunders; 2.Todd Dunivant, 20.A.J. DeLaGarza, 4.Omar Gonzalez, 27.Bryan Jordan; 18.Mike Magee, 30.Paolo Cardozo, 23.David Beckham (15.Dan Keat 78'), 8.Chris Birchall; 10.Landon Donovan (26.Michael Stephens 78'), 14.Robbie Keane (25.Miguel Lopez 84')
Subs not used: 24.Brian Perk, 6.Frankie Hejduk, 11.Chad Barrett, , 17.Adam Cristman
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 26.Jordan Harvey, 4.Alain Rochat, 6.Jay DeMerit, 25.Jonathan Leathers; 37.Camilo, 8.Peter Vagenas, 28.Gershon Koffie (12.Jeb Brovsky 76'), 22.Shea Salinas; 20.Davide Chiumiento (23.Long Tan 65'), 29.Eric Hassli (7.Mustapha Jarju 73')
Subs not used: 18.Jay Nolly, 2.Michael Boxall, 16.Nizar Khalfan, 27.Alexandre Morfaw
Budweiser Man of the Match: Jay DeMerit