Three things: June 6

CARSON, CALIFORNIA – Vancouver Whitecaps FC earned a historic 1-0 win over LA Galaxy on Saturday night at the StubHub Center, putting an end to LA’s 29-match home-unbeaten run.


Here are three things that stood out to me.


SHOW ME THE MANNEH

That was Kekuta Manneh’s best game of the season.


And not just because of the goal, though it sure helped. The 20-year-old caused all sorts of problems for the Galaxy back line, including U.S. men’s national team centre back Omar Gonzalez. He could have very easily had an assist too thanks to this cheeky little pass between the legs of right back Oscar Sorto.


But we all know Manneh is capable of that sort of attacking trickery. What impressed me most about his game on Saturday was his defensive work. Despite playing 90 minutes on Wednesday in Montreal, he worked his tail off to track back and help out when the ‘Caps were out of possession.


The numbers back that up. He had four tackles on the night, which is one back of his career high. Here’s a sample of his defensive work (the first video is moments before his goal).





“I thought he was excellent,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters after the match. “If you look and see what he does off the ball as well, his movement, his patterns are getting better, on the defensive side he is getting better and obviously he could have maybe scored another goal or two because he got through once or twice and his touch let him down.”


So Manneh meets Chicharito in Montreal and then plays hero in California. Not a bad week.


TOWER OF POWER

As Peter Schaad mentioned on the broadcast, that also may have been Pa-Modou Kah’s best game in a Whitecaps FC uniform. He and centre back partner Kendall Waston ate up absolutely everything in the air and didn’t give the likes of Robbie Keane, Edson Buddle, and Alan Gordon an inch.


“They dominated us [in the air],” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said after the match.


Waston led the way with a whopping 14 clearances, adding to his league-leading total, while Kah had a game-high six interceptions. Fullbacks Steven Beitashour and Jordan Harvey, who were both playing in their home state, also combined for nine clearances and five interceptions.


See below for the map of the back line's clearances (purple) and interceptions (blue). That's what you call a busy night's work.

Three things from Saturday's win over LA Galaxy -

Remarkably, the 'Caps prevented LA from getting a shot on target (the first time that's ever happened at home for them) en route to their league-leading seventh clean sheet of the season.


“Kendall and Pa were excellent and the two fullbacks were outstanding,” Robinson said. “We know LA like to attack the fullbacks and get width that way. You have to defend your box if you can’t stop it at the source and we did that very well today. All of the guys in the locker room deserve a huge pat on the back for their performance.”


MAKING A STATEMENT

When asked about LA’s 29-match home unbeaten run on Friday, Robinson said: “Why not us?”


Why couldn’t the ‘Caps be the team that snapped the streak? With that in mind, Robinson and his assistants decided to field an attack-minded lineup rather than the 4-3-1-2 three-defensive midfielder setup we’ve seen them use in previous road fixtures.


“I challenged them before the game,” Robinson said. “I said, 'You have to believe you can do it,’ because I firmly believed we could.”


And despite the fact that Vancouver had been outscored 15-2 in their previous seven matches – all losses – against LA at the StubHub Center, he was right.


Saturday’s match was the final meeting between the ‘Caps and Galaxy this season. Vancouver won both games and kept the defending MLS Cup champions off the scoresheet in the process.




With a bye week coming up, Whitecaps FC won’t be back in action until June 20 vs. New York Red Bulls. Meanwhile, WFC2 have a pair of matches this week, including a home date with LA Galaxy II on Sunday, June 14 at 2 p.m. PT. 

Three things from Saturday's win over LA Galaxy -

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