The Whitecaps were a dead team walking coming into the match today, with a lot of the goodwill earned by their surprising Voyageur’s Cup run now replaced with ire and frustration with systems and partnerships breaking down across the field. These are a crucial run of games for the Whitecaps and either the team would have to shift a new gear, or a player would have a breakout end of season ala Brian White 2021.
First to pop out in the eye test was the lineup which Sartini put out. It was experimental, with four at the back instead the three which the Whitecaps have become known for, along with a rotated lineup with just a couple of recognizable names.
The first half was dour. LA Galaxy looked right at home on the synthetic turf of BC Place, and the actual home team looking worn down within it. Possession was grossly skewed towards that of the Galaxy and the stars of Chicharito and Puig seemingly shining so bright that it threatened to suffocate any Whitecap trying to make their mark on the game. It was a continuation of consistently disappointing Whitecaps results where it looked like the Whitecaps resigned themselves as a team not destined for playoffs. To add insult to injury, the team was playing very defensively with very few true attacking chances. The first half was certainly not a fun watch, a an odd moment of brilliance from Gauld was the only thing to punctuate a beginning that increasingly seemed to be tilting in the favour of the opposition.
The second half was a completely different story. The Whitecaps, having been the far worse team for most of the game, somehow found some fighting spirit and began to effectively counter attack. Vite found his true position and White was able to push forward. With the team able to overload the front, specifically in the opposition 18, the Whitecaps were able to create a scramble in the box that led to the ball bouncing around multiple players before settling down in front of Gauld for him to strike inside of the net. From the Galaxy player’s faces, you could tell this caught them by surprise, as the LA outfit didn’t seem to know how to bounce back from this and their gameplan was heavily altered. The Whitecaps took great advantage of this to make the Galaxy play a game of follow-me and stretched their back line far enough where Vite was able to tap in a second to put the Whitecaps even further ahead. The doom and gloom seemed to catch up to LA, as eventually, they dropped their level and super-sub Tossaint Ricketts was able to punctuate the game, making it 3-0.
This was a must-win game in the hunt for playoffs, and many doubts were beginning to creep in to Vanni Sartini’s side. These doubts are still there, but for now they have been quelled enough to satisfy the Whitecaps faithful before their long and arduous road ahead.