CARSON, CALIFORNIA: Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-5L-12L) saw their six-match unbeaten streak come to an end in a 2-0 loss to LA Galaxy (11W-5L-7D) Saturday night at the StubHub Center.
The high-flying Galaxy scored two first-half goals, both assisted by league MVP candidate Robbie Keane, to hand the ‘Caps their first loss in over a month and just their fifth defeat of the season.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made three changes to his starting lineup after last week’s scoreless draw with Chivas USA, which also took place at the StubHub Center.
Veteran midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy made his second start of the season in place of a suspended Matias Laba, while Pedro Morales and Kekuta Manneh took the spots of Nicolas Mezquida and Omar Salgado. For Manneh, it was his first start since July 12 and 20th appearance of the season – equaling the total from his rookie campaign.
The ‘Caps entered Saturday’s match on a 321-minute shutout streak, but that didn’t last long against the high-flying Galaxy. LA opened the scoring in the fourth minute through a familiar combination.
After Andy O’Brien headed away a Galaxy cross into the box, Keane found Landon Donovan at the back post on a second phase ball and the American banged it in from close range to give the home team an early advantage.
To their credit, Whitecaps FC manufactured a positive response after conceding early. They controlled possession, got into some dangerous areas, and looked quite comfortable at both ends of the park.
One player who looked particularly lively for Robinson’s side was Manneh, who caused all sorts of problems for Galaxy right back Dan Gargan. The 19-year-old had Vancouver’s best chance of the match in the 14th minute, going for goal from about 20 yards after a short corner.
LA started to come on again around the half-hour mark, however, and they quickly doubled their lead. After some nice build-up, the ball eventually reached Keane in the centre of the box. The Irishman whiffed on his shot but the ball fortuitously fell to Marcelo Sarvas, who slotted it home from in tight in the 32nd minute.
It was an unfortunate turn of events for the ‘Caps, who entered the second half down a pair of goals despite playing quite well for about 30 minutes.
Robinson brought on recently acquired Rosales to start the second half and the Argentine made an immediate impact. Just after the break, Rosales played a nice little combination with Morales before nearly connecting with Manneh who had made a run down the middle.
Manneh was involved again in the 55th minute. The young Gambian made a 60-yard run down the left flank, beating two defenders before seeing his left-footed strike stopped by a sprawling Jaime Penedo.
At the other end of the park, LA had a few chances to increase their lead in the second half, including a 57th minute corner that Morales cleared off the line and a late Keane strike that David Ousted deflected off the crossbar.
Vancouver’s best chance of the second half came in the 81st minute. That’s when Waston, who played 11 minutes as a striker in his ‘Caps debut, played a nice one-two with Darren Mattocks at the top of the Galaxy box. The Jamaican got off a decent effort, but an outstretched Penedo made the save.
Just before the final whistle, matters got worse for Whitecaps FC when Leveron was sent off for a tackle on Alan Gordon. The Honduran centre back will now miss next week’s home match vs. Portland Timbers, which could open the door for Waston to make his first start.
The fifth-place ‘Caps remain two points up on Portland, who are set to meet Seattle Sounders FC on Sundaynight. No matter the result of that game, there will be major playoff implications when the ‘Caps and Timbers meet next Saturday, August 30 at BC Place. Limited tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets, 5-packs, student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Kekuta Manneh
Referee: Allen Chapman
4′ – LA – Landon Donovan (Robbie Keane)
32′ – LA – Marcelo Sarvas (Robbie Keane)
Shots: LA 22 – Vancouver 6
Shots on Goal: LA 7 – Vancouver 3
Saves: LA 3 – Vancouver 4
Fouls: LA 10 – Vancouver 12
Offsides: LA 1 – Vancouver 1
Corners: LA 3 – Vancouver 2
21′ – LA – Dan Gargan
60′ – VAN – Mehdi Ballouchy
78′ – LA – A.J. DeLaGarza
80′ – LA – Marcelo Sarvas
83′ – LA – Omar Gonzalez
87′ – VAN – Kendall Waston
90′ – VAN – Johnny Leveron
18.Jaime Penedo; 33.Dan Gargan (2.Todd Dunivant 84′), 4.Omar Gonzales, 22.Leonardo, 20.A.J. DeLaGarza; 6.Baggio Husidic (9.Alan Gordon 74′), 8.Marcelo Sarvas, 19.Juninho, 10.Landon Donovan; 7.Robbie Keane, 11.Gyasi Zardes
Substitutes not used:
12.Brian Rowe, 25.Rafael Garcia, 27.Charlie Rugg, 26.Oscar Sorto, 40.Raul Mendiola
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 40.Andy O’Brien, 16.Johnny Leverón, 2.Jordan Harvey; 8.Medhi Ballouchy (19.Erik Hurtado 66′), 31.Russell Teibert; 77.Pedro Morales, 7.Sebastián Fernández (30.Mauro Rosales 45′), 23.Kekuta Manneh (4.Kendall Waston 79′); 11.Darren Mattocks
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 17.Omar Salgado, 29.Nicolás Mezquida