Keep An Eye On: LA vs VAN

Still reeling from a dramatic 4-3 win against the Colorado Rapids, the LA Galaxy feel ready to square off against the Vancouver Whitecaps this coming Saturday night. In spite of the momentum from the spirited win, it doesn’t look like the Galaxy will easily move on from the first half of that Rapids game. They have their work cut out for them as they slowly recover from the 4-1 loss against Columbus Crew.

The Galaxy are at 10-5-7 but will have to strengthen their defense, as Head Coach Bruce Arena knows. In the last game alone, we saw Leonardo struggle at central defense. And Todd Dunivant, fresh off an injury, is still warming his way into the back line. After Colorado’s three goals in the first half, and Robbie Keane’s single reply, fans were feeling more than a little worried at half-time. Arena expressed:

“You can never predict these things in sports. You see it all the time in athletics — sometimes there are odd results, and sometimes teams come out flat for whatever reason. Tonight, that was certainly the case with us. It was a tale of two halves.”
—Bruce Arena

Ideally, the Galaxy will come out on Saturday and play like it’s a continuation of their electric second half in which Alan Gordon tied the game up and the Designated Players scored goals, making it the first game of the season in which all three DPs scored. After the game Arena said:

“Well, they responded. They did a good job. We’re fortunate we got a few good goals, and I think once we got the second, they were certainly under a little bit of pressure, and the third was obviously big. And then I thought we’d have a chance to get the fourth one. We held on enough to get the three points. Obviously, it was a pretty good second half.”
—Bruce Arena

Whatever it took to wake the team from their slump, Keane says they can’t keep playing like this:

“We can’t be going into every game chasing from the first 15 minutes. It’s always difficult to go behind, especially when you’re playing away from home. But we showed character in the second half, and we can take certainly a lot of confidence from that, and, hopefully, that will stand us in good stead for the next couple of games. Hopefully, we’ve learned a lesson in the last few games.”
—Bruce Arena

Hopefully is right.

Now they will meet the Whitecaps, who are currently unbeaten for six games. The bright side for the Galaxy is that five of those games were ties but that certainly doesn’t mean it will be easy. The Whitecaps have had a season full of ties but what does that say about them? It says that while they need to work on their offensive approach, their defense is strong. David Ousted, Vancouver’s goalkeeper, said, “We’ve only lost two out of the last 17. We still need to build on that, we still need to be happy about that, but knowing that we still need to go for those wins.” The Galaxy have won eight and lost one in the twelve meetings they’ve had with Vancouver.

With playoffs looming, the Galaxy needs to keep that summertime momentum. They know what they need to do: strengthen defensive lines, tighten set pieces, and stay strong in those first fifteen minutes. The hope is that the team wakes up before the game, as opposed to at halftime — or, worse, after the final whistle.