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Vancouver Whitecaps Conclude Preseason with 2-1 Victory Over LA Galaxy

The Vancouver Whitecaps concluded their preseason on Saturday evening, with a 2-1 victory over Western Conference rival LA Galaxy. We review the match and look ahead to the first game of the season, March 4th, against Montreal Impact.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at LA Galaxy Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps concluded their preseason schedule on Saturday night, with a 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy, at StubHub Center, in Los Angeles, thanks to a penalty kick goal from Kei Kamara, and a goal from 17-year-old Alphonso Davies!

Vancouver started with their traditional 4-2-3-1, with Stefan Marinovic in net, Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Aaron Maund, and Marcel de Jong on the backline. In front of them were Efrain Juarez and Russell Teibert. In attack, Carl Robinson started with Yordy Reyna, Cristian Techera, Alphonso Davies, and Kei Kamara. I expect that the come opening day, on March 4th, the Starting XI will very closely resemble this lineup.

Fans might be surprised to hear that the lineup we saw begin the match against LA will be what Robbo goes with on opening day, given some of the obvious missing names, but it is important to remember that Doneil Henry and Aly Ghazal have slight knocks, while Anthony Blondell is being worked in slowly. In addition, Tim Parker might be on his way out, and not playing him Saturday might have been a precautionary move, to make sure he did not get injured. Finally, Russell Teibert and Alphonso Davies have looked great in the preseason and if Robbo is a man of his word, that players earn their starting positions, those two have certainly done that! However, I do expect Blondell to play at least 30 minutes in the club’s MLS opener, and for him to be in the starting lineup sooner rather than later; especially with the chemistry him and Reyna have displayed on the field thus far.

Another player that we have discussed extensively this preseason is Cristian Techera. He has looked great, and did again on Saturday night. It was his play at the edge of the box that earned the Whitecaps a penalty kick.

Of course, it was Kei Kamara who took the PK and slotted it home. Although the Caps did well last season on penalty kicks, there was a bit of a drop-off when Pedro Morales left. No longer was it a guaranteed goal. With Kamara slotting home his second of the preseason, and his experience in that area, I think the Caps will be in a good place with penalty kick conversion again.

As I noted above, expect to see Russell Teibert and Alphonso Davies in the starting lineup come March 4th. While it will be nice to have three Canadians in the Starting XI (four if Doneil Henry can make it back), each of the three will have earned their place. Davies, once again, looked like he was back to the player we saw prior to, and during the, Gold Cup. He was a threat throughout the match and scored the game winner in the 52nd minute. He was able to slip through the defense somehow (I watched it several times and still don’t full ‘get’ it), and then slotted it home with power and into the top, near-post, corner. It was a great goal and another positive sign that he is ready to take the next step this season.

LA Galaxy got one goal back in the 66th minute, thanks to a penalty kick goal from Giovani dos Santos. It was for an apparent hand ball from Marcel de Jong. I wasn’t particularly sold on it being a hand ball, but there was no video review and the Caps did not complain too loudly.

While Vancouver made six changes in the second half, four in the 62nd minute -Brek Shea Nicolas Mezquida, Tony Tchani, and Anthony Blondell- and another two in the 76th minute -Bernie Ibini and Sean Franklin-, none of the substitutes had much of an impact. It was disappointing to see, but not that surprising. Although Mezquida, Tchani, Shea, and Ibini showed last season that they can be productive, they were not a consistent threat. It is probably why they are now seen more as first substitutes rather than starters.

Overall, it was a solid performance from the Whitecaps, even if a bit unbalanced. It wasn’t the most entertaining match, nor dominating, but it was preseason and, more importantly, it was the Whitecaps. I don’t necessarily mean that as a negative. We know what to expect from Robinson’s team and that was on full display Saturday evening.

The Caps will now open up the 2018 MLS season hosting Montreal Impact next Sunday, at 3pm. The entire lower bowl will be open, so hopefully a strong crowd will turn out. Montreal has not looked the best this preseason, so hopefully the Caps can get off to a strong start, and give the home fans some optimism for the season.

What are your thoughts on Saturday’s match, the individual player performances, and the expectations for the upcoming season?