Carson, CA – The LA Galaxy got back to their winning ways on a July 4th hoping to quell the growing unease about lackluster performances over the past five games. With goals from returning international Robbie Keane, and LA Galaxy workhorse Jeff Larentowicz, LA was able to out maneuver a dangerous Whitecaps team that probably should’ve seen more than a zero on the scoreboard.
The starting lineup was minus a few key players as both Ashley Cole (Red Card) and Jelle Van Damme (Yellow Card Accumulation) were both suspended. In their place Leonardo and Dave Romney filled in and combined with Daniel Steres (returning from a muscle strain suffered against Colorado) and AJ DeLaGarza. And while the backline seemed to bend many times, they didn’t conceded. Thus marking the second straight shutout after their 1-0 US Open Cup win in Portland on Wednesday night. This makes 4 total shutouts in MLS play in 2016 for the LA Galaxy.
But it was really the return of Captain Robbie Keane that got the LA Galaxy off on the right foot. After receiving a great pass from Steven Gerrard in the 12th minute, Keane beat two Whitecaps defenders and scored from more than 20 yards out with a right footed wrapping ball around the outstretched arms of Whitecaps ‘keeper David Ousted.
“Robbie’s been putting them in the top corners for twenty odd years. I’m sick of seeing it, to be fair. He did have a smile at me and didn’t want to give him a smile back,” said Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson. “But the reason Robbie (Keane) gets paid a lot of money is because he’s able to do that.”
It was the kind of quality finishing that the LA Galaxy have been missing over the last 5 games. In fact the last time Robbie Keane suited up for LA was before he left to captain Ireland in the Euro’s on May 22nd.
Also marking his return was US International Gyasi Zardes. Zardes was easily the biggest piece missing for the Galaxy during the winless streak. Zardes is a workhorse on both sides of the ball. And tonight he was effective in his crossing and his ability to create space. He was unlucky as none of his excellent crosses were finished, but his chance creation was second only to Steven Gerrard who ended the night with two assists.
Steven Gerrard was another standout performer. He put multiple balls in dangerous areas, his combination play with Robbie Keane was impeccable and his ability to spread the ball out wide to find Zardes and Giovani dos Santos was key. He’s been a real difference maker in the last couple of games and if the Galaxy are going to ride his performances towards another championship, then he’s going to have to continue the good run of form.
“Yeah it’s been too long, we’ve let a lot of games slip in the last moments of the game. So to get over the line today and get maximum points and very important win. Now it’s important that we build on this and try a streak of winning games together.” Steven Gerrard, LA Galaxy Midfielder
Having said all of that about the moments of brilliance from LA, Vancouver outplayed the them in the first half. But upon coming out for the start of the second half, they quickly found themselves in a whole 2-0. Off a Steven Gerrard corner kick in the 47th minute, Jeff Larentowicz was able to push off on the Whitecaps’ Jordan Harvey. His push cleared enough room to easily put the ball into the back of the net. It was something that Jeff was very candid about it in his post game comments, “I got away with a push and scored the goal.”
Carl Robinson wasn’t happy with the call.”It was clear to see his hands were in the back of him. Could we’ve done better? Yeah.” But ultimately it wasn’t to be for Vancouver. Chance after chance seemed to fizzle out in front of a gutsy backline performance by Los Angeles.
Even after Nigel De Jong was red carded, his first red card of the season, for a foul on Blas Pérez in the 73rd minute the Whitecaps couldn’t muster a serious challenge on net. Although De Jong’s card did briefly ignite the fire to whether or not he’s a dirty player, it wasn’t anything that was outside of a straight red card.
But for the second straight game a yellow card was first shown to an LA Galaxy player only to be quickly changed to a red card. It was the right call, and Referee Robert Sibiga issued a statement that was read to the press after the game. “My initial reaction, based on the angle I had was a caution. However, after consulting with the referee crew, we decided that a red card was a proper punishment for this tackle.”
The LA Galaxy improved to 6-3-8 on the year and moved up to 4th place in the Western Conference. LA’s next match will find them going to Seattle to take on the Sounders in their 1st of three meetings in July (Two MLS Games and one US Open Cup game).
The July 20th meeting between the LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders is in US Open Cup play and will more than likely be played at StubHub Center’s Track & Field Stadium.
July will also see the Galaxy play against Portland and Houston during a very busy month.
LA – Robbie Keane (assisted by Steven Gerrard, Jeff Larentowicz) 12’
LA – Jeff Larentowicz (assisted by Steven Gerrard) 47’