Last weekend at the StubHub! Center a momentary lapse in the Vancouver Whitecaps' defense was all that LA Galaxy striker Robbie Keane needed to pounce and score the only goal of the match. One has to think after the Whitecaps failed to score points in their previous two matches (two matches where the Whitecaps deserved at least a point from one, if not both games) the Caps will be doubly motivated to reward the faithful with a victory on Saturday afternoon.
Keys to the Game:
1. Pressure the Ball: The Galaxy are very effective with their passing game as we have seen this season. In a match against Chivas USA two weeks ago, the Galaxy were able to string together a succession of thirty-three passes which was helped them to control and dominate the match against the Goats. Last week the Galaxy out-passed the Whitecaps (561 to 367) and also bettered Vancouver in possession (57% to 43%).
2. No Mental Mistakes: Last week in Carson, CA the Whitecaps played a pretty disciplined first half. Unfortunately, that discipline did not carry over to the start of the second half, and in minute forty seven Robbie Keane capitalized on a slightly disorganized Whitecaps' defense to net the only goal of the match. Vancouver will have to stay sharp because the Galaxy is team full of offensive talent waiting to pounce on any defensive errors. This certainly cost the Caps last weekend.
3. Finishing: Whitecaps' manager, Carl Robinson, opted for youth over experience last weekend in Los Angeles. If Saturday's match turns out to be LAG vs. Whitecaps FC Redux then the goal-scoring opportunities may be few and far between. If Robinson decides to start youngsters like Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks over the experienced and clinical Kenny Miller, then the young guns will have to make the most of their chances in front of goal.
The Whitecaps will also have to deal with the a Galaxy defense that is anchored by center back Omar Gonzales, who last week had 21 of LA's 53 clearances. Gonzalez was very effective and Vancouver's scoring opportunities were dealt with by LA goalkeeper, Jaime Penedo, who was up to the task all night long.
Robinson will have more personnel options for this match with Nigel Reo-Coker fully recovered from injury and Matías Laba back after serving his one match suspension for being sent off against the Colorado Rapids following a second bookable offense.
What can we expect from the Whitecaps on Saturday? Although the Whitecaps lost to the Galaxy last weekend, their road form in 2014 has improved from last season. Of course, the Whitecaps are tougher to beat at BC Place (the Caps were W9-L3-D5 at home in 2013), but these two clubs split the wins at BC Place last season - with both clubs winning one match each. With the exception of the injured Bryce Alderson (achilles tendon) and Mehdi Ballouchy (knee), Robinson has plenty of players to choose from no matter which formation or tactics he will employ this weekend.
Starting Lineup (4-4-2 Diamond): Ousted (GK) * Harvey * DeMerit * O'Brien * Beitashour * Laba * Teibert * Koffie * Morales * Mattocks * Miller
Final Score: Whitecaps FC 1 - 0 LA Galaxy
PRO Referee Assignment:
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
AR1: Jonathon Johnson
AR2: Marco Arruda
4th: Dave Gantar
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