Highlights: LA Galaxy 2 - 0 Whitecaps FC
VANCOUVER, BC - Playing their first match in the month of September, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-11L-7D) suffered a 2-0 away defeat to Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy (13W-11L-4D) in Major League Soccer on Saturday evening.
A first-half strike by Juninho helped the Southern California outfit earn this year’s regular season series of matches versus Whitecaps FC. The Galaxy wrapped up all three points after the break, as David Beckham struck home a trademark free kick in the late stages at The Home Depot Center.
Defeat for the Blue and White sees the distance between fifth-place Vancouver and the top four in the MLS Western Conference extend to six points, with six matches remaining in the 2012 regular season schedule for Whitecaps FC.
In a bid to give some first-choice players some rest before the end-of-season run-in, Rennie freshened up his starting XI by making five changes on Saturday. This included a first MLS start of the season for youngster Russell Teibert, who put in a very solid performance on the left flank for Vancouver. Englishman Matt Watson also made his first start for nearly four months in the ‘Caps midfield.
In gorgeous early September weather in Carson, California, Whitecaps FC worked hard to close down the defending MLS Cup champions and keep their shape. Chances were limited from the visitors before the break. An off-target Kenny Miller header was the closest that Whitecaps FC came to testing Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders in the opening 45 minutes.
Much of the first half revolved around the Galaxy trying unsuccessfully on several occasions to penetrate the Vancouver backline with through balls. They created chances through Robbie Keane, Mike Magee, Juninho, and a Beckham free kick, but goalkeeper Brad Knighton - who was making his second MLS start for Whitecaps FC - made the necessary saves.
What makes LA so dangerous in MLS is their ability to unlock teams at any moment. That occurred on 41 minutes when the home side scored the match winner. Following a neat passing sequence that involved several Galaxy players on the right flank, Keane steered Hector Jimenez’s pass into the path of Juninho. The Brazilian took a touch before beating Knighton with an unstoppable right-footed strike for his fifth goal of the season and a 1-0 LA lead at halftime.
The second half proved just as challenging for Whitecaps FC, who struggled to turn the momentum of the match back in their favour. Dane Richards came closest to finding the back of the net with a curling cross-shot that just missed the Galaxy far post on 64 minutes.
Instead, the Galaxy created more chances after the break, with Keane forcing a couple more saves from Knighton, while Jun Marques Davidson had to clear a Jimenez shot off the Vancouver goal line.
Whitecaps FC’s hopes of taking an away result on Saturday ended when Beckham showed his world-class quality on set-pieces to score his seventh goal of the season on 79 minutes. After being awarded a free kick near the edge of the Vancouver box, the former England captain curled it over the visitors’ wall and past a helpless Knighton to seal a 2-0 victory for the surging Galaxy.
The ’Caps will now take a two-week break before focusing on the final game of this four-match away spell, as they visit Frisco, Texas, for a crucial Western Conference encounter versus FC Dallas on Saturday, September 15.
Budweiser Man of the Match: John Thorrington
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
41'- LA - Juninho (Robbie Keane, Héctor Jiménez)
79' - LA - David Beckham
Shots: Los Angeles 16 – Vancouver 2
Shots on Goal: Los Angeles – Vancouver 0
Saves: Los Angeles 0 – Vancouver 6
Fouls: Los Angeles 10 – Vancouver 19
Offsides: Los Angeles 1 – Vancouver 3
Corners: Los Angeles 4 – Vancouver 2
22' - LA - Omar Gonzalez
61' - VAN - Dane Richards
90+1' - VAN - Etienne Barbara
12.Josh Saunders; 5.Sean Franklin, 4.Omar Gonzalez, 20.A.J. DeLaGarza, 2.Todd Dunivant; 16.Hector Jimenez (33.Jose Villarreal 71'), 19.Juninho, 23.David Beckham (14.Edson Buddle 86'), 8.Marcelo Sarvas; 7.Robbie Keane, 18.Mike Magee (26.Michael Stephens 79')
Substitutes not used: 24.Brian Perk, 11.Pat Noonan, 21.Tommy Meyer, 35.Bryan Gaul
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18.Brad Knighton; 11.John Thorrington, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 3.Jordan Harvey; 16.Matt Watson, 27.Jun Marques Davidson (37.Camilo Sanvezzo 85'), 14.Barry Robson; 20.Dane Richards (13.Michael Nanchoff 71'), 7.Kenny Miller, 31.Russell Teibert (8.Etienne Barbara 87')
Substitutes not used: 1.Joe Cannon, 4.Alain Rochat, 9.Atiba Harris, 19.Carlyle Mitchell