Strong Finish: Vancouver Whitecaps cap wild 2020 with dominant win over 10 men Galaxy

Despite having the disappointment of missing out of the playoffs ahead of this one, the Vancouver Whitecaps finished off their year on a strong note on Sunday, as they beat the LA Galaxy 3-0 on Decision Day. Here is our report from that one, as for the last time this year, we recap the match that was for the ‘Caps. 

At the very least, they finished with a positive result. 

While the season didn’t end the way they would’ve hoped, the Vancouver Whitecaps made sure to finish things off on a strong note on Sunday, as they soundly beat the LA Galaxy 3-0 to close out their MLS season. 

Even though it was a dead rubber match between two teams already eliminated from the MLS playoff picture, it proved to be a surprisingly entertaining match, as both teams made sure to end off the year strongly. 

But despite a strong start from the Galaxy, the ‘Caps proved to be too much for their Californian counterparts, scoring 2 first-half goals en route to a commanding victory. While a red card from the Galaxy’s Julain Araujo in the 39th minute certainly helped their cause, the ‘Caps were the better side over the course of the 90 minutes, giving them a deserved victory.

To start the game, the Whitecaps made 1 change to their lineup that lost to the Portland Timbers last week, as left back Cristian Gutierrez came in for Leonard Owusu, allowing Ali Adnan to push up and play on the wing. 

As the ‘Caps looked to finish off with a win, they were hoping for an offensive boost by pushing Adnan further up the field, especially against an inconsistent Galaxy defence. While the change was forced, as Owusu was forced to return to Ghana to sort out an immigration issue ahead of the 2021 season, it was still an intriguing one regardless.

On the other side, the Galaxy made 2 changes to their side that drew against the Seattle Sounders in midweek, as Efrain Alvarez and Joe Corona came in for Sacha Kljestan and Sebastian Lletget. 

With the Galaxy looking to finish ahead of the ‘Caps in the standings with a win, they looked to put some more athletic bodies on the pitch, allowing them to cover more ground physically. 

But despite the changes, the game started out rather slowly, much like the last two times these teams met, with the Galaxy carrying the balance of the play.

Cavallini had a decent effort in the 8th minute, but he sent his shot well over, before Yony Gonzalez would do well to test Evan Bush from a tight angle in the 11th minute, forcing a save from the ‘Caps keeper. 

The ‘Caps continued to push, as they slowly started to rack up the chances. Ali Adnan nearly won a penalty with a marauding run that saw him taken down around the box in the 19th minute, before Cristian Dajome sent a dangerous shot just wide in the 21st minute. 

And spurred on by their rush of opportunities, the ‘Caps opened the scoring in the 24th minute, as Cavallini made sure to tickle twine this time around. Cristian Gutierrez made a great run down the left hand side, receiving the ball in acres of space, and he sent in a great cross, finding Cavallini’s head for the Canadian’s 6th goal of the season. 

Not long after, Cavallini nearly doubled his tally, as Montero found him with a looping ball in the 28th minute, but this time Cavallini’s glancing header went just over the bar. 

LA started to wake up after that, as they started to generate some chances, with Cristian Pavon and Yony Gonzalez doing well to force saves from Bush with good shots in the 30th and 34th minutes, respectively. 

Things would soon go from bad to worse for them, however, as Julian Araujo would catch Gutierrez with a high challenge in the 39th minute, which the referee would rightfully get the red card out for, dropping the Galaxy to 10 men. 

Vancouver would immediately capitalize on the space provided by the red card, as well, doubling their lead in the 43rd minute. Ali Adnan found some space on the left-hand flank, before whipping in a dangerous ball, one that would bounce and then hit off of Fredy Montero’s chest and into the net, doubling the ‘Caps lead.

Heading into half time, it was a dream result for the ‘Caps, who were full value for their lead. Not only had they been the better team, but they’d also took advantage of their chances, as well, giving them every reason to believe that they could grab all 3 points heading into the second half. 

With the extra man advantage, it was hoped that they could keep the foot on the gas pedal, putting the sword to the Galaxy and finishing the season off strongly. 

And they did just that to start the half, as they continued to put pressure onto the Galaxy, forcing their Californian rivals onto the back foot. 

Cavallini would come close with a header in the 47th minute, as Gutierrez did well to find him once again with service from a wide area, but the Canadian just couldn’t keep his attempt below the bar. 

A few minutes after, Russell Teibert nearly scored a wonder goal, as Erik Godoy did well to find him with a cheeky ball over the top, but Teibert’s aggressive volley would be clawed over the bar by David Bingham. 

After that, the game would slow down, as both teams seemed content in seeing out things as they stood. 

The next big chance would come in the 71st minute, as the ‘Caps would push for a third, leading them to nearly find it via Cristian Dajome. Montero did well to find his Colombian counterpart with a ball over the top, but the winger just couldn’t slide a ball past Bingham, with the LA goalkeeper standing tall in his goal to keep it out. 

For whatever reason, that chance would wake up the Galaxy, who found some great chances after that, both through Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. 

First, Chicharito forced a great save from Bush via a free kick in the 74th minute, as the former Mexican International did well to put some whip on his set-piece attempt, which Bush did well to put up a strong arm to. Not long after, Chicharito forced another strong save from Bush, this time from a long shot via open play, as he sent a laser of a low shot towards the ‘Caps keeper. 

And in the 79th minute, LA got one of their best chances of the game to that point, as second-half substitute Sacha Kjlestan had a go from distance himself for the Galaxy, with his shot hitting the crossbar and staying out to keep things 2-0. 

Despite that push, however, the ‘Caps would get the last laugh in the 91st minute, as Cristian Dajome fed Fredy Montero in the box, and the Colombian stuck the ball right into the top corner, giving him a brace to end off the year. 

Not long after, the referee would blow for full time, giving the ‘Caps their 9th win of the season, besting their 2019 total in 11 fewer games.

While it was not the Decision Day that the ‘Caps would’ve been hoping for heading into it, they did well to make the most of it, scoring some goals and keeping a clean sheet in the process. 

Heading into a pivotal offseason, hopefully that win can set them off on a good path, one in which they game the transfer market and get the players that they need in order to push themselves over the hump next year. 

Man of the Match: Cristian Gutierrez

Cristian Gutierrez in action at BC Place back in September (Keveren Guillou)

In a surprise start, Gutierrez was everywhere on Sunday, covering ground up and down that left touchline for Vancouver. 

He had a very well taken assist on the first goal, did well to win the red card on Araujo, and was just everywhere for the ‘Caps from an overall standpoint. 

Knowing that the Whitecaps have a tough decision to make now with Ali Adnan, the play of Gutierrez will make any decision all that easier, knowing that he’ll be able to fill in as a starter if needed. 

BTSVancity Player to Watch: Fredy Montero

Montero chases a loose ball against the Montreal Impact at BC Place back in September (Keveren Guillou)

In what might be the last game of his ‘Caps career, Montero finished off with a bang, scoring 2 well-taken goals to finish off his 2020 season on a high note. 

It might not have been the sort of season that he hoped for, but he did well to make the most of his chances, coming on strong in the second half. 

Heading into this offseason as a free agent, he also did well to give himself plenty of leverage in contract negotiations, which could see him get some more money than he was previously on track to pick up. 

Heatmap of the Game: 

In their last game of the year, the ‘Caps came on strong in many ways, including in the heat map department, as they bossed this section for the first time in a while. 

Heading into the offseason, it’s a good way to end off this section for the year, as the ‘Caps did well to control this game for the most part. 

Looking Forward:

Now, the ‘Caps get some time off, as they prepare for what’s next in this unique 2020 year. 

What’s clear is that they’re done playing for the rest of the year, but who knows what comes next in terms of transfer market dealings, as several key decisions will need to be made on contracts, trades and other important off-the-field matters. 

So stay tuned for whatever comes next, as the ‘Caps look to dive into this offseason head first, heading into one of the most important periods of the club’s history. 

Special Note:

Lastly, we just want to extend our thanks to all that have taken the time to read our coverage throughout this wild season! It hasn’t been quite the first two seasons we’d hoped for in terms of results, but we wouldn’t trade any of the memories for the world!

Here’s to more seasons of coverage, including some that end a little more prosperous than this one!

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