Cali Catastrophe: Vancouver Whitecaps complete unfortunate Californian trifecta in late loss to Galaxy

The Vancouver Whitecaps fell to the LA Galaxy via a late goal on Sunday, snapping a lengthy losing run from the LA-based side, while also stopping a budding ‘Caps run of wins in the process. Here is our report from that one. 

Luckily, they won’t have to go back for a while. 

With their loss to the LA Galaxy on Sunday, the Vancouver Whitecaps completed a Californian hat trick they definitely won’t want to remember, as they lost their 3rd game in the state over this past month, after having lost to LAFC and the San Jose Earthquakes a few weeks earlier. 

And while they were blown out by a combined score of 9-0 in those first two games, this game was a lot tighter, as they only lost 1-0, with the 1 goal coming in the 90th minute. 

After doing well to control play for a good chunk of the game, the ‘Caps just couldn’t muster up any offence when they needed it most, and the Galaxy woke up right at the perfect moment, allowing them to grab the goal needed to bust their lengthy slump. 

Now, with only a handful of games left in this MLS season, things remain wide-open as ever in the Western Conference, with only 7 points separating 5th and 12th at our time of publication. 

To start the game, the Whitecaps only made 1 change to their lineup that beat LAFC last Wednesday, as Michael Baldisimo slotted in for a suspended Janio Bikel in midfield. Aside from that, it was pretty much the same team for the third game in a row, as Marc Dos Santos and the ‘Caps looked to try and build off of back-to-back wins heading into this one. 

On the other side, the Galaxy only made 2 changes to their lineup after a heavy 4-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in midweek, as Giancarlo Gonzalez and Efrain Alvarez came in for Nick DePuy and Javier Hernandez. The big surprise was to see the high-priced Hernandez make way, but given his struggles so far in MLS, it did feel that a benching like this was on the horizon. 

The ‘Caps would start the game off brightly, as Fredy Montero had a good shot from distance in the 4th minute, but his attempt would be saved easily by Jonathan Klinsmann in the LA goal. 

Soon after that, the Galaxy would have a great chance to open the scoring, as a botched Jake Nerwinski back pass would see Cristian Pavon played in behind all alone with Evan Bush, but the Argentine would be denied by a sublime double-save from the ‘Caps keeper in tight. 

Crisis adverted, the ‘Caps would continue to find some decent half-chances, but nothing of finishing quality. Ali Adnan found a pair of chances around the 15th minute, as he sent an attempt just wide off of a corner, before forcing a nice Klinsmann save off of a free kick in the 18th minute. 

After a 20 minute quiet spell, the Galaxy would have the next best chance of the game in the 38th minute, as Sebastian Lletget found some space at the top of the box, but his powerful volley would be palmed out by Bush. 

Mere minutes after, Yony Gonzalez had a pair of nice chances, as the Galaxy found him on a pair of nice crosses at around the 39th minute, but he sent both of his strikes well wide of the goal. 

Heading into half time, it was overall a quiet first 45 minutes from both teams, as they were just unable to find that pivotal breakthrough, despite some good chances from both sides. 

For the ‘Caps, it was a good position to be in, especially considering that it was an away game, but for the Galaxy, despite their recent losing streak, you did expect a bit more at home, especially when you factor in the fact that Vancouver held over 60% of the possession. 

But despite the supposed urgency you’d expect in a game between two teams who had every reason to want a victory, the second half started out very slowly, with not much happening in terms of quality chances. 

Lucas Cavallini came close in the 52nd minute, as he had a chance just cleared off of the line, but the potential goal wouldn’t even make it to review, with the referee rightfully calling him offside on his run. 

Both teams would then trade chances around the 54th minute, as Lletget would send a left-footed shot just wide, before Jake Nerwinski would force a decent save from Klinsmann with a shot in the box at the 59th minute. 

After yet another lengthy quiet spell, the game would finally get the shot in the arm that it desperately needed at the 85th minute, as LA really started to wake up. 

First, Javier Hernandez would send a shot well over after a nice Cristian Pavon ball in the 85th minute, before Pavon would hit the crossbar in the 90th minute off of a deep Sacha Kleijstan free-kick delivery, keeping the ‘Caps just alive. 

But unfortunately for Vancouver, they’d be unable to hold off LA for much longer, as they’d get the winner in the 90th minute. Pavon would find a bit of space before sending in a delightful low ball across goal from the right-hand side, finding second-half substitute Kai Koreinuk for the homegrown’s first-ever MLS goal. 

And despite a late push from the ‘Caps, in which Theo Bair saw his snap shot just cleared off of the line, the Galaxy would snatch all 3 points, snapping a 6-game losing streak and 7-game winless run in the process. 

Not only that, it was a deserved result for the Galaxy, who rode a strong finish to the game to a big victory. 

For the ‘Caps, that has to hurt, as they were in the game right until the end, but ultimately, they just didn’t seem to have the cutting edge required to break things open, and that was reflected in the final score. 

Luckily for them, they do get a week-long break now, which isn’t much, but given how tired they looked at the end of this one, should be good news for some of their players. 

At the same time, this feels like a huge missed opportunity, especially against a struggling Galaxy side that did look ripe for the picking at times in this one. 

Man of the Match: Evan Bush

It’s rare that we pick our player to watch as the Man of the Match, but given how things unfolded, it only feels fair to pick Bush, who was by far the best player on the pitch for the ‘Caps. 

He made some big saves, he was composed in possession, and just overall did everything that he needed to do at the back for a Whitecaps team that was cruising along in neutral for a good chunk of this one. 

BTSVancity Player to Watch: Evan Bush

Unfortunately for Bush, with the late goal, he was denied the clean sheet that we’d possibly hinted that he might get, but that was not for his effort, as he was excellent. 

As a result, Bush’s wait for a first clean sheet with Vancouver continues, and that’s now 15 games without a clean sheet for the ‘Caps as a whole. 

Heatmap of the game: 

A surprisingly balanced heat map for the ‘Caps, one that certainly shows where their struggles lied in this game. 

They had good spells of possession, but they were just too stagnant in the final third, and that’s reflected by the heat map. 

Given how tired the forwards looked at the end, you do wonder if some earlier offensive substitutions could’ve woken the ‘Caps up, giving them the juice to find a late winner. 

Looking Forward:

Now, a week-long break awaits Vancouver, before they take on the San Jose Earthquakes in Portland next Saturday, in what’s shaping up to be a big game between both sides. 

Despite the loss, the ‘Caps are only 3 points behind the Earthquakes, with both teams in spots #7 and #8 in the Western Conference, both still narrowly in the playoff picture. 

A win either way makes things very interesting, so while this recent loss will certainly sting for the ‘Caps, everything remains still very up in the air. 

At the same time, they had every chance to win, and considering how much the Galaxy have struggled as of late, you do absolutely have to consider this a golden opportunity missed. 

With everything being so tight as it is, they had the chance to create a bit of much-needed breathing room, but instead, they left the door wide open heading into their last 4 games. 

Will it come back to bite them? It’s too early to tell, but it’ll definitely be one that cost them some valuable points at a crucial time. 

Up next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes, Saturday, October 24th, 2020, 19:00 PST (Providence Park, Portland)

Cover Photo via: Matthew Stith/MLS

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