Most people entered the Vancouver Whitecaps Friday match concerned about the damage Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the L.A Galaxy would do. But after less than a minute it was the Whitecaps who were awarded a penalty. It looked a little soft but VAR was not used. Ali Adnan stepped up and tried the panenka but it was tragically under-hit and David Bingham was able to recover to save. An embarrassing moment for Adnan.
In the 19th minute it was another big chance for the Whitecaps has Ardaiz pounced on a loose ball but Bingham did well to make a top class save. It was the Whitecaps who seemed to have most of the play. Inbeom Hwang was very active and Adnan looked determined to atone for his penalty miss. In the 27th minute the Galaxy had their first real chance as Ibrahimovic put in Uriel Antuna but Max Crepeau was out well to challenge and the chance was clipped wide. In the 29th minute the Whitecaps answered back as some good play between Adnan, Erice and Hwang put the Korean in on goal but his shot was right at Bingham.
The Galaxy began to come back into the match around the 30 minute mark. In the 33rd minute Alessandrini almost snuck one in as he forced Crepeau into a save when his searching ball for Ibrahimovic missed everyone in the box. In the 35th minute Jonathan Dos Santos missed just high with a long range effort. In the 37th minute Alessandrini curled another shot just over the bar as the Whitecaps gave the ball away trying to play out of a tight area.
In the 39th minute some tricky play from Bangoura lead to a deflection that Bingham had to be alert to save. Then once again it was the Galaxy’s turn to threaten as in the 43rd minute Ibrahimovic smashed a long range free kick that deflected off Jon Erice and just wide. Again in the 45th minute Joe Carona almost gave the Galaxy the lead from a scramble in the box but he put it just over. Overall it was quite a good first half from the Whitecaps as they limited the Galaxy to mostly shots from the perimeter and were able to hold 50% possession (always an achievement in Vancouver), but a goal eluded them.
The Galaxy came out of half time flying. In the 47th minute Crepeau horribly spilled a cross to Ibrahimovic who somehow scuffed it wide of the gaping goal. In the 50th minute it looked like Ibrahimovic had scored but the referee’s assistant had raised his flag. In the 56th minute the pressure continued as Alessandrini acrobatically volleyed over the bar off a deflected cross from Rolf Feltscher (yes, Rolf is apparently a name).
In the 58th minute there was some pushback from the ‘Caps as Felipe smashed the rebound of a deflected Hwang shot just over the bar. Lucas Venuto entered the match for Bangoura and tested Bingham immediately with a shot that was deflected on target and tipped out for a corner.
In the 63rd minute the Galaxy took the lead when Ibrahimovic picked up the ball following some scrabbly defending and his back post cross found a woefully unmarked Daniel Steres who mad no mistake. In the 70th minute Ardaiz had a chance to equalize as he got on a Hwang cross but he put it over. He was made to pay shortly thereafter as it was Ibrahimovic again who smashed one past Crepeau. The big Swede struck a thunderous volley into the roof of the ‘Caps net after Erik Godoy didn’t get good contact on his headed clearance. In the 82nd minute a long range shot from Adnan was well saved again by Bingham, a keeper I assured my girlfriend before the game was really bad (he sure showed me). The game finished 2-0 for the Galaxy.
GOD DAMN IT! This has to be one of the most frustrating ‘Caps games i’ve ever seen. For the most part they were great! In the first half they kept Zlatan a virtual spectator, Hwang looked dangerous, they won a penalty in the first minute, it was Erice’s best game as a Whitecap so far, They had 5(!) players complete over 90% of their passes. In the end though it didn’t matter because the opposition had a superstar of such individual talent that it just didn’t matter. I think the Whitecaps are trying to play the right way, and approaching their squad building in the right way for their budget, but it’s starting to creep into the back of my mind that MLS might just be moving too fast for them. Hwang, Adnan, and Montero are fantastic players but you don’t have to be perfect to beat them. You do have to be perfect to beat the likes of Zlatan, and the Whitecaps are far from perfect. I am not giving up hope. Far from it. I maintain that I would much rather have a team that tries to play progressive football and fails than one that doesn’t try at all. But if every team around them is improving faster then it isn’t going to matter how nice the ideals they strive for are because they just won’t have the quality. Still, support is always, and i’m glad i’m mad again after a game like this rather than just apathetic.