Highlights: Vancouver 2 - 2 LA.
VANCOUVER, BC - In what was a thrilling Major League Soccer encounter, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8W-6L-7D) were held to a disappointing 2-2 home draw by defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy (8W-10L-3D) on Wednesday evening.
After goals by ‘Budweiser Man of the Match’ Gershon Koffie and Barry Robson gave Whitecaps FC a two-goal halftime lead, Vancouver were denied their first MLS victory over the Galaxy after David Beckham and young substitute Jose Villarreal earned LA an away point in the late stages.
Played in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,000 on Bell Pitch at BC Place, those in attendance were provided with plenty of entertainment from both sides, as Vancouver witnessed yet another exciting Western Conference encounter in 2012.
With the open BC Place roof letting in the summer evening sunshine, Whitecaps FC provided much of the entertainment in the first half, as they took a two-goal lead through two of their midfielders. After Beckham failed to hit the target with one of his patented free kicks, the Blue and White took the lead on 18 minutes with their first genuine chance of the match. Playing some of his best soccer this season, Koffie was rewarded with the chance to strike at goal after the dangerous-looking Camilo Sanvezzo rolled the ball into his path.
The young Ghanaian shifted on to his left foot just inside the LA box and beat Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders with a low drive. It was Koffie’s second goal of the season and Vancouver’s first league goal versus the Galaxy.
Whitecaps FC then doubled their lead with Robson’s first goal in MLS and for the club on 27 minutes. Young-Pyo Lee played a superb cross from the right that found the Scottish international in the Galaxy box. Robson steered a fine header past a sprawling Saunders to make it 2-0 to the ‘Caps, with the midfielder reaching 100 goals in his professional career, and on his home debut for Vancouver.
Where Whitecaps FC were the story before the break, the Galaxy showed the resilience of defending champions to claim something out of the match in the second half. This resulted in LA hitting the Vancouver woodwork on a couple of occasions and Beckham causing the ‘Caps many problems with his crosses from the right flank.
Yet, there were also instances when Whitecaps FC could have extended their lead through the lively Robson on 73 minutes and Koffie seven minutes later. The young West African forced Saunders to tip his powerful shot off his own crossbar and away to safety.
It was edge-of-the-seat stuff, and by the late stages, LA’s pressure finally paid dividends with two goals in the last ten minutes. Beckham scored the Galaxy’s first on 81 minutes with a shot that took a deflection before beating ‘Caps goalkeeper Joe Cannon for 2-1.
Then after Robson hit the LA crossbar with a well-hit free kick for the ‘Caps, LA equalized on 87 minutes through an unlikely source. Making just his second first-team appearance, former Galaxy Academy product Villarreal drilled home his first-ever MLS goal from the edge of the Vancouver box to make it 2-2.
It was pulsating stuff right to the end, and looking to restore their lead, Whitecaps FC pressed for a dramatic stoppage-time winner. The last chance fell to new ‘Caps hero Robson, who struck another free-kick strike that forced Saunders into a spectacular save.
In the end, both clubs shared the spoils, with Vancouver seeing their winless streak in the league extend to four matches. Yet, the entertainment that was witnessed on Wednesday night will be the thing that most at BC Place will remember fondly.
Whitecaps FC will have a short turnaround before hosting the top club in MLS on Sunday afternoon, as San Jose Earthquakes make a second visit of the season to BC Place.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Gershon Koffie
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
18' - VAN - Gershon Koffie (Camilo Sanvezzo)
27' - VAN - Barry Robson (Young-Pyo Lee)
81' - LA - David Beckham (Landon Donovan)
87' - LA - Jose Villarreal (Juninho, David Beckham)
Shots: Vancouver 14 – Los Angeles 8
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 6 - Los Angeles 3
Saves: Vancouver 1 - Los Angeles 4
Fouls: Vancouver 16 - Los Angeles 19
Offsides: Vancouver 3 - Los Angeles 1
Corners: Vancouver 3 - Los Angeles 4
45+1' - LA - Landon Donovan
58' - VAN - Jay DeMerit
83' - LA - David Junior Lopes
86' - LA - Jose Villarreal
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 3.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie, 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 14.Barry Robson; 20.Dane Richards, 22.Darren Mattocks, 37.Camilo Sanvezzo (13.Michael Nanchoff 69')
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 8.Etienne Barbara, 16.Matt Watson, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 31.Russell Teibert, 32.Greg Klazura
12.Josh Saunders; 5.Sean Franklin, 20.A.J. DeLaGarza, 3.David Junior Lopes, 2.Todd Dunivant (35.Bryan Gaul 31'); 16.Hector Jimenez (33.Jose Villarreal 70'), 23.David Beckham, 8.Marcelo Sarvas, 26.Michael Stephens (19.Juninho 57'); 10.Landon Donovan, 7.Robbie Keane
Substitutes not used: 24.Brian Perk, 6.Bryan Jordan, 21.Tommy Meyer, 32.Jack McBean