CARSON, CA - Playing their final Major League Soccer match in the month of June, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-4L-5D) fell to a 3-0 away defeat versus defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy (6W-8L-2D) on Saturday evening.
Goals by Mike Magee and Robbie Keane were followed by a Landon Donovan penalty in a dominant first-half display by the Galaxy in front of 21,529 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California. LA’s work rate and pressure to close down Whitecaps FC ensured a third-straight league win for the Galaxy, even though Vancouver created chances in the second half. The weekend loss ended Whitecaps FC’s five-match unbeaten streak, with the Blue and White still in search of a first win and goal versus the Galaxy as an MLS club.
“Obviously, we came into this match on a five-game unbeaten run and in pretty good form, so we were hoping to continue that tonight,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “But I think we met, in the first half, an LA Galaxy team that was in really good form. I think that the movement of their front players was by far the best I’ve seen since I’ve been in the MLS. They caused us a lot of problems and I think that we certainly caused a few of our own mistakes. In the second half, I thought we regrouped reasonably well. But obviously, at 3-0, the game is over. We just have to accept the disappointment of the defeat, make sure that it hurts, and make sure it helps us learn.”
On a pleasant early summer’s evening in Southern California, the Galaxy showed why many consider them to be the class of MLS, despite a slow start to their 2012 season. Buoyed by two straight league victories, LA took command of this Western Conference clash with three goals before the break.
After creating early chances through Juninho and Keane, the Galaxy’s third corner of the match resulted in LA’s match winner on 16 minutes. Whitecaps FC were unable to clear David Beckham’s set-piece, and after ‘Caps goalkeeper Joe Cannon made a goal line save, Magee was on hand to poke the rebound home for his third goal of the season.
Where Vancouver were still trying to find their feet in the match, the Galaxy looked in the type of form that led them to last year’s league title. Donovan was unlucky not find the scoresheet from open play on two occasions, as Cannon and the post denied the United States international. It mattered little, as Keane crowned his return from EURO 2012 duty with the Republic of Ireland, with a well-taken goal on 30 minutes. After taking a pass from Donovan in the ‘Caps box, the Galaxy striker danced through three Whitecaps FC players before slotting his shot past Cannon to make it 2-0 to LA. It was Keane’s fourth goal of the season.
Matters went from bad to worse for Whitecaps FC, as captain Jay DeMerit conceded an LA penalty after blocking Keane’s shot in the Vancouver box with his arm. Donovan stepped up to put his 41st-minute spot kick past Cannon and make it 3-0 to the Galaxy at halftime. The penalty strike took Donovan to five goals for the season.
Only an off-target strike from Budweiser Man of the Match Davide Chiumiento was what Whitecaps FC had to show for chances before the break, but following a halftime team talk, Rennie’s side showed signs of improvement in the second half. Substitute Camilo Sanvezzo looked bright after coming on for the injured John Thorrington with a couple of goal-bound efforts, while Jun Marques Davidson and Alain Rochat also had sights at goal. Back from a one-match suspension, Darren Mattocks was also unable to test Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders with a couple of efforts.
As for LA, the three-goal cushion allowed the home side to sit back and hit Vancouver on the counter-attack. Keane had more chances, including the ball in the ‘Caps net on an offside decision late on, while Juninho, Donovan, and a Beckham free kick all failed to test Cannon.
Though Whitecaps FC’s Eric Hassli and Michael Nanchoff also appeared off the substitutes’ bench before the end, the scoreline was not affected, with Camilo having the last chance of the game in second-half stoppage time after the Brazilian’s low drive was well saved by Saunders. The final whistle from match referee Allen Chapman confirmed a sobering defeat for Whitecaps FC - one that will remind them of the big challenge that still lies ahead to secure an MLS Cup Playoff spot from the Western Conference this season.
Whitecaps FC will look to rebound early next month, as they visit another Western Conference rival in Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, July 4. The Galaxy, meanwhile, have a week to prepare for an important ‘California Clasico’ derby at the in-form San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Davide Chiumiento
16' - LA – Mike Magee
30' - LA – Robbie Keane (Landon Donovan)
41' - LA – Landon Donovan (penalty)
Shots: Vancouver 11 - Los Angeles 18
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 2 - Los Angeles 6
Saves: Vancouver 16 - Los Angeles 14
Fouls: Vancouver 9 - Los Angeles 19
Offsides: Vancouver 0 - Los Angeles 1
Corners: Vancouver 6 - Los Angeles 2
16' - LA – David Beckham
24' - VAN – Darren Mattocks
61' - VAN – Jun Marques Davidson
68' - LA – Sean Franklin
12.Josh Saunders; 2.Todd Dunivant, 20.A.J. DeLaGarza, 3.David Junior Lopes, 5.Sean Franklin; 18.Mike Magee (6.Bryan Jordan 75’), 23.David Beckham, 19.Juninho, 16.Hector Jimenez (26.Michael Stephens 65’); 7.Robbie Keane, 10.Landon Donovan (9.Chad Barrett 90’)
Substitutes not used: 24.Brian Perk, 21.Tommy Meyer, 35.Bryan Gaul, 8.Marcelo Sarvas
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1. Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 4.Alain Rochat; 28.Gershon Koffie, 27.Jun Marques Davidson (29.Eric Hassli 66’), 11.John Thorrington (37.Camilo Sanvezzo 49’); 7.Sebastien Le Toux (13.Michael Nanchoff 84’), 22.Darren Mattocks, 20.Davide Chiumiento
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 3.Jordan Harvey, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 26.Floyd Franks