For about an hour it wasn’t going too badly. The Whitecaps were trading chances with the best team in MLS in front of the biggest crowd of the season on a sunny day in Vancouver.
Then Michael Boxall slipped, Landon Donovan scored, and the LA Galaxy went on to notch three more goals and the clouds were once again sitting over Empire Field.
The Whitecaps began this game with their most attacking lineup of the season, with the return of Davide Chiumiento meaning that only Gershon Koffie could be relied upon to act as a shield for the back four, and there was certainly a logic to that choice as Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is happy for his team to sit back when on the road, and Vancouver began in a suitably lively style.
Chiumiento was finding space in the early stages of the game, and the movement from the rest of the forward line was impressive, but the best of the chances fell to new signing Mustapha Jarju, who is still some way away from being match fit, and Vancouver failed to turn their possession into goals.
As the half ended it was as though the visitors suddenly realised that Vancouver couldn’t actually hurt them and began to create chances of their own, forcing a string of good saves from keeper Joe Cannon.
LA’ new found confidence meant that they began the second half with a new formation, moving Landon Donovan from his wide position to a more central striking role, and initially the loss of his defensive backtracking gave the momentum back to Vancouver resulting in their best chance of the game.
Shea Salinas went on a weaving run into the area, seemed to wait an age before firing in his shot, but was reeling away in celebration before seeing the ball bounce back off the inside of the post and away to safety.
Two minutes later Landon Donovan finished far more clinically and the game was effectively over.
Once this Galaxy team have the lead then they can do what they do best; sit back, soak up pressure, and hit you on the break. They got a little bit more help from the Whitecaps though when Jordan Harvey inexplicably hand balled in the area allowing Donovan to score his second from the spot.
The final two goals didn’t really matter in the context of the match, but they must have felt like punches to the kidneys for players who have become sickeningly acquainted with the pain of defeat.
I’ll take a look at the tactics that Tom Soehn employed tomorrow, but his players were given a lesson in how to pass a move on Saturday and they were reminded, once again, how important is it to be clinical in front of goal.
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Tags: World soccer