The Vancouver Whitecaps got the win, that is good. But what isn’t good was the way they won.
The Whitecaps had one more game to go before MLS pauses for a month for the Apple TV Cup…sorry…Leagues Cup. LA Galaxy were in town and they have had probably their worst season in years. However, they were 2-0-4 in their last six. Those two wins were against LAFC and the Philadelphia Union, last year’s MLS Cup Finalists.
The Whitecaps took off in the best way possible but their landing was rough. They got the three points but there are once again, lessons to be learned.
What we learned
- The Whitecaps like to get off to fast starts. For the second straight game, they scored early, this time it was a minute and 26 seconds in. Brian White, who missed three sitters last game against Austin FC got his head on Ryan Raposo’s cross. He needed that one. It was even better he got it early.
- Jonathan Bond should’ve had this one though. James Bond had to deal with Goldfinger, and Jonathan Bond had to deal with Butter Fingers.
- The Whitecaps also have scored 18 goals within the first 25 minutes in all competitions this season. Last season, they struggled to score early and conceded early.
- Ryan Gauld is on an absolute tear. The Flying Scotsman is running at full speed and is pulling the train down the tracks to the playoffs. He had a brace against LA Galaxy and that is eight goals and five assists in his last nine games. Gauld may not be an All-Star but he is playing like an MVP candidate recently. What does he have to do to convince Steve Clarke to call him up for Scotland?
- The Whitecaps stuck to their game plan in the first half. They were limiting the Galaxy’s chances by taking away the ball and starting quick counterattacks.
- But in the second half, the defending looked very nervy. Once again, they gave up a goal on the set piece. But you got to give credit to Gason Brugman for the well-taken volley
- The Whitecaps nervy defending also looked sloppy. Tristan Blackmon (he turned the ball over was way too high up the pitch. Ranko Veselinović got hypnotized by Riqui Puig and Luis Martins and Ali Ahmed were alone covering Marco Delgado
- Chris Mavinga was sent off for bringing down Brian White in the box which lead to Gauld’s penalty. You would think the Whitecaps would keep dominating. But instead, they let a 10 men Galaxy team get back into the game. That can’t happen. The gas needs to be on the pedal until the game is over. The Whitecaps let the fact they are up by a lot get to them and as a result, looked sloppy
- In Mortal Kombat, once your opponent is close to being defeated, the game tells you to finish him so you can do a fatality. But the Whitecaps couldn’t, well until stoppage time. However, the fatality should come earlier.
- Yohei Takaoka has brought solid goalkeeping all season. However, he has looked shaky in the last few games. He had a bigger five-hole than Roberto Luongo’s on the second Galaxy goal. That is quite an uncharacteristic goal for Takaoka to give up.
- On a positive note, it was nice to see Ali Ahmed back. After he came on in the second half, he looked very lively with his speed, tacking and passing. Ahmed had a good Gold Cup with Canada and it is nice to see his form continue
- Ryan Raposo looked good in the second half but he kind of dipped, like the rest of the team in the second half. In the wingback position, he has more freedom. He doesn’t have to run back as much and can be more offensive. Like the rest of the team, there were times when made some poor decisions with and without the ball in the second half.
- The Whitecaps hit the crossbar like four or five times in this game. What is this, a crossbar challenge?
- Thankfully, Sergio Córdova put in the rebound of Deiber Caicedo’s shot that hit the crossbar deep into stoppage time. That is goals in back-to-back games for Córdova. After going so long without one, that is really nice to see.
- This is also the first time since early April that the Whitecaps have won back-to-back games at BC Place. That is kind of jarring to think about but you have to remember, the Whitecaps also had several draws this season.
What was said
With head coach Vanni Sartini suspended for this match due to yellow card accumulation, (we media folks could hear him in the press box as he was in one of the broadcast press boxes which are above the print and online press box) assistant coach Michael D’Agostino was on the touchline and he spoke to the media after the game.
He spoke about the difference between the first half and the second half.
“We went completely away from the plan that we had at halftime,” said D’Agostino. “We had a very fantastic first 30 minutes. In general, in the second half, we veered away from our plan. Guys turned the game into a little bit more of an individual-type scenario and did a little bit too much of what they wanted to do.”
D’Agostino was asked about his experience of being the main man on the touchline for the first time.
“I’ll be honest it’s a lot harder than kind of I thought,” he said. ““Being the one that has to make the decisions and these types of times, especially as the game changes in terms of momentum, it’s something that’s very difficult. But at the end of the day, it’s an experience that I’ve always wanted to try to go through. Now that I’ve done it, I think I ever get the opportunity again, and it’ll be just that little bit easier.”
Raposo talked about the game and he was frustrated with the second half.
“I thought the first 30 minutes of the game was really good, and we stuck to our gameplan, and it showed what we are capable of when we do that,” he said. “But I think there was a sense of complacency and overconfidence which lead to 60 minutes of us struggling, which we shouldn’t be since we are at home. Going forward, we need to deal with those situations much better.”
Gauld talked about his form that he is on.
“I’ve been kind of, I don’t know, getting into the right positions,” he said. “Either, the boys finding me in the right areas or them putting away the chances I create. There’s not much more to it. Thankfully, I’ve been in popping up in the right areas and I hope it continued.”
Gauld also talked about the difference between the two halves and what contributed to the drop-off.
“I think it is the drop in intensity,” he said. “I think it was easy for us to look at them and say ‘they got 10 men, we can let them have the ball, they won’t create much.’ But, they got a lot of good players on that team. Once we took a step back a bit, it was hard for us to get control of the match even with the extra man. There are times when it felt like they had the extra man.”
Stat of the match
Along with the brace, Gauld completed 41 out of 47 accurate passes. (87%) Where would this team be without him? Not in a playoff spot, that’s for sure
Brian “xG” White
Guess White thought the Asahi board was his XG stat. “Screw your xG, I got a real G”, he was probably thinking.”
The first 30 minutes was a game of FIFA on Amateur Mode with the sliders all the way down.
What is this game?
Heart rates rise up
The Whitecaps are the kings of chaos. They also are the kings of stress because watching them with a lead would make any Whitecaps fan sweat more than Saturday’s heat.
MLS at it again
Did the referee forget Mavinga was already booked? I mean, Mavinga got the yellow less than 10 minutes before! And I thought I was forgetful.
D’Agostino for Mayor
Well, D’Agostino has a better record than Sartini as Whitecaps manager. Build him a statue.
The whipping boy
Taking off Andrés Cubas for Russell Teibert around the 60th minute was an interesting move, even when the Whitecaps were up 3-0. That is the type of move that gets made past the 80th-minute mark.
Teibert and Sebastian Berhalter were like a dam breaking very slowly. They were letting water, or in this case, the LA Galaxy’s attack. Puig in particular, looked very dangerous.
Teibert wasn’t directly responsible for the Galaxy’s two goals but once he got subbed on, you felt like the game was tilting in the Galaxy’s favour.
I love this sport
Games like this remind me why I love soccer. It was even cooler to see a game like this in the press box. It was exciting, nerve-wracking and everything in between.
The Whitecaps and the other 28 MLS teams will take a month off from the league as the Leagues Cup begins next week. Vancouver will face reigning CONCACAF Champions League winners Club León at BC Place on Friday, July 21. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm.