The 2-0 victory for Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy over Carl Robinson’s Vancouver Whitecaps could have been a bit more decisive if the finishing from Robbie Keane was more in form. Still, it was a far better defensive display than their last two outings on the road. Despite that, a lack of finishing form will raise a red flag ahead of next Wednesday’s tilt with Ben Olsen’s D.C. United.
Hear from Bruce Arena following the Galaxy’s second straight victory in August.
Here are six things we learned, followed by player ratings, for Saturday night’s encounter between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps.
1. Robbie Keane…the unexpected provider!?
Robbie Keane’s two assists…were not meant to be assists. They were mishits that happened to be cleaned up by Landon Donovan and Marcelo Sarvas in the first half. Take a look.
“You’re always taught that as a kid, to hit it across the goal, and most of the time someone’s going to be there,” Keane told MLSSoccer.com’s Scott French. “If they’re not there, then it’s no problem.
“The second one, I did [mishit it], definitely. It was a complete mishit, but I’ll take the assist.”
“I’m often at fault for being a little too unselfish, but you know, at the end of the day, if that is a zero-zero game I’m probably shooting it,” said Landon Donovan to the press. “But I like to get Robbie [Keane] involved. He does a good job of getting everyone else involved, so I want to reward him when we can.
“It’s one of those games. It happens sometimes, but he did so many things well for us and he is dangerous whether he is scoring or not. He puts so much pressure on defenses; I would certainly hate to play against him.”
2. Now THERE’S some defense from LA
Where was this the last two games? Even though this was at the Hub, the Galaxy defense actually defended. You know the Galaxy defense played well when Leonardo didn’t make a mistake AND Jaime Penedo saved like Jaime Penedo.
“They played well,” Arena said of the defense. “They had a couple of chances at the end but I thought in general they played well. A couple of crosses in the second half were dangerous. Our guys did a good job clearing the ball and Jaime [Penedo] made a couple of good saves. Overall it was an improved performance.”
“We kept our shape,” said Marcelo Sarvas. “Even with the game being 2-0 we didn’t step back. During the game you start pressing higher in the midfield or you push everyone behind the ball but every time they had the ball we had one guy pressing and the other one supporting so I think that was the key.”
3. Confidence a boon for the Galaxy
The Galaxy’s 4-3 comeback win over the Colorado Rapids midweek at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park brought a lot of confidence to the Galaxy and it showed in their result, even though the finishing was suspect in the second half. Confident teams win often, and the Galaxy will need to finish the regular season on a wave of confidence to contend for a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
“Probably, we were probably confident and feeling good about how we finished the game,” said Donovan, who now has 140 goals in his MLS career. Regular season, that is. “But all the emphasis this week was on starting the right way.
“And it would’ve been fine to start right and play well, just not concede before halftime and go in comfortable, but then to get the two goals on top of that really helped. The only fault was not getting the third or the fourth, but other than that I thought we played very well.”
4. Back to the drawing board for Vancouver
As for the Whitecaps, Robinson was left searching for answers as to why his team were left in the dust by a resilent Galaxy outfit.
“I can’t really hit the nail on the head to be honest,” Robinson told MLSSoccer.com’s Michael McCall. “It’s something we all need to work at. Whether you’re a defender, or whether you’re a player creating or a striker getting into areas where you can take the chances.
“We all need to take responsibility for that. I’ll take responsibility for that. But we haven’t scored in three of the [last] four games and we need to go back to the drawing board. You don’t turn into a good team overnight and you don’t turn into a bad team overnight, so we just need to get back to work.”
5. Los Angeles will have to deal with face of adversity
This will not be an easy remainder of the season for Bruce Arena’s Los Angeles Galaxy. September and October will be critical months, and this Wednesday’s meeting with D.C. United is a sign of things to come. But great teams rise to the occasion and step their game up, and Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez expects that to be the case.
“Adversity is definitely something that can help build a team going through rough times,” Gonzalez said. “You don’t like going through it, but at the end of it, hopefully you can come out of it and say, ‘alright, we learned and we’re going to be better from it.’
“So coming out of tonight’s game, we can look back and say ‘alright, that’s behind us, now we can continue forward just continue with the way we did tonight.’”
Donovan was asked if the Galaxy could consider themselves a player in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.
“It’s taken a long time, but we have a real chance now,” said Donovan. “We play Dallas twice more, we play Seattle twice more, so really, it’s in our hands.
“Obviously big game with big implications on Wednesday, because even if we don’t finish top of the West, if we get through the West, all of these games are important. So very important game Wednesday and we have to make sure we’re ready.”
6. Flattering scoreline, based on team stats
If the Galaxy won 4-0 or 5-0, these team statistics you see below would hold more water. But even so, this was a dominating performance from the Galaxy. They had more shots, more possession, passed better and forced the likes of David Ousted and the Vancouver backline to do work. Discipline will be important this coming week, as those cautions piled up late in the second half.
Los Angeles Galaxy in gold, Vancouver Whitecaps in light blue
|7||Shots on Target||3|
|7||Shots off Target||2|
|85 %||Passing Accuracy||84 %|
|60.2 %||Possession||39.8 %|
Los Angeles Galaxy Player Ratings
Jaime Penedo 7, A.J. DeLaGarza 6.5, Dan Gargan 6.5, Leonardo 7, Omar Gonzalez 6.5, Baggio Husidic 6, Juninho 6, Landon Donovan 8, Marcelo Sarvas 8, Gyasi Zardes 6, Robbie Keane 9, Alan Gordon 4, Todd Dunivant NR
Vancouver Whitecaps Player Ratings
David Ousted 4, Andy O’Brien 3, Johnny Leveron 1, Jordan Harvey 4, Steven Beitashour 4, Mehdi Ballouchy 3.5, Pedro Morales 4, Russell Teibert 5, Sebastian Fernandez 2, Darren Mattocks 5, Kekuta Manneh 5, Mauro Rosales 4, Erik Hurtado 3, Kendall Waston 1.5