Match Preview: Whitecaps at Galaxy

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2-1-2 Whitecaps take on the 1-1-1 Galaxy. Can the 'Caps overcome the loss of Matias Laba, and handle the duo of Donovan and Keane?

I'm going to be 100% honest here; on paper, this doesn't look good. First off, the Vancouver Whitecaps are on the road, which has been their Achilles heel since they've joined MLS. Second, if the road has been their Achilles heel, the LA Galaxy have been their kryptonite, sporting a dominating 6-1-1 record against the good guys. In case you're wondering, that includes 18 goals for the Galaxy, and just 6 for Vancouver.

Finally, remember how the Whitecaps looked pretty discombobulated on the pitch without Matias Laba against Colorado? Well, Laba's red means he's sitting for the Galaxy match. (More on that later)

However, let's all put on our rose coloured glasses and call ourselves optimists. It's a new season with some new faces on both sides, so perhaps it can produce some different results.

Last Match for Vancouver (2-1-2): After a second half Darren Mattocks goal, the Whitecaps seemed destined for a win versus the Colorado Rapids. Instead, a boneheaded second yellow from Matias Laba saw the 'Caps crumble defensively, as the Rapids cruised to a 2-1 win.

Last match for the Galaxy (1-1-1): The Galaxy secured their first win of the season, after dismantling their California cousins Chivas USA by a final score of 3-0. Carl Robinson's good buddy Robbie Keane scored in that one, by the way.

Laba out, Reo-Coker in: Well, with Matias Laba watching from the press-box this weekend, a healthy Nigel Reo-Coker looks like he will slot in. Reo-Coker has spent the last few weeks recovering from a rogue bike rack, but has looked pretty underwhelming all season long. Last season, he was the engine of the offense (seriously, how many times have I typed 'charging runs?'), but under Carl Robinson, it looks like he's being asked to play a more defensive game in his holding midfield spot. I'm not sure that's best for Reo-Coker; however, it may be a moot point as Pedro Morales looks to be the new pulse for the attack.

How about that paycheque? Morales is making 1.4 million this season, making him the highest paid Whitecap ever. It's funny because that figure is dwarfed by the Galaxy's brightest stars; Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan both make a healthy $4.5 million a year, while Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley are over $6,00,000.

We've only seen a limited example of what Morales is capable of given this young MLS season, but I think that's a pretty good deal. I mean, given Eric Hassli once made $900,000 for this club, it's not like that's an unbelievable number. The thing is, I'm comparing his salary with some proven stars in the league, like Keane and Donovan. For Morales to earn that pay, he's got to establish himself as one as he continues his 'Caps career.

The biggest question mark? Arguably, the Whitecaps' best player this season has been the steady Matias Laba. Now, facing two of the most dangerous attackers in MLS in Keane and Donovan, the Whitecaps won't have his defensive presence at their disposal. He'll sit, and the Whitecaps will have to hope that Nigel Reo-Coker isn't too rusty. I suspect the 'Caps will play a very safe, simple, defensive match against the Galaxy, considering that on top of it all, it's away from BC Place.

Prediction: History says the Whitecaps are going down. Given how they've looked on the road this season, I'm having a hard time disagreeing. Galaxy 2, Whitecaps 1.

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