Tonight, the stars align at BC Place as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and company make their way onto the BC Place turf to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. When the ball kicks off at approximately 7:08 PST, it will mark the 21st match between the two Western Conference MLS rivals in their time in MLS. The two teams could not have been any more different over the years, with LA relying on heavy investment in big stars playing in Europe such as David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and many more, while the Whitecaps have been one of the thriftier teams in MLS, chasing success with unheralded stars and a world-beater mentality.
Vancouver’s all-time record vs LA is 5-10-5, as they have picked up 20 points total. It’s not great but is impressive considering they were only 1-7-1 in the first 9 encounters between them, as LA dominated them during a period (2011-2014) where they won 3 of their 5 total championships in MLS. Vancouver has done a lot better over the last 12 matches, picking up 16 points to LA’s 12, slowly chipping away at the 22-4 point lead LA had after the first 9 matches, whittling it down to 35-20 total.
In this piece, we will look at the 5 victories Vancouver has picked up against the Galaxy over those 20 matches, ranking them from 1-5, as today’s exciting match looms. It’ll be a fun trip down memory lane for fans and hopefully the Caps can reconjure some of this magic as they look to spoil the Zlatan party at BC Place tonight.
#5: Whitecaps FC 1-0 LA Galaxy (July 19th, 2017) Away
A Carl Robinson classic. Tony Tchani nodded home a deep free-kick from Christian Bolanos as the Caps somehow took 3 points after being laid under siege for most of the night. LA held 60% of the possession on the night, but the Whitecaps somehow outshot LA en-route to the 1-0 victory. Pretty big victory for the Caps as this match was part of a very successful regular season for them, but it would have been nice to see them take it to LA a bit more. Robinson was very good at these kinds of games, as he pulled off an even bigger snatch and grab late in the season against Kansas, amongst many others.
#4 Whitecaps FC 2-0 LA Galaxy (April 4th, 2015) Home
A good home affair. The Caps were in fine form at the time of this one, as it was their 4th victory in a row as they stood on top of the MLS standings with a 4-1-0 record after this one. New signing Octavio Rivero had scored his 4th goal in 5th matches, and all the wheels were turning in the right direction as they looked to build off the momentum of a positive playoff appearance against Dallas in 2014. An exciting home match, the Caps took it to LA, heavily outshooting them and providing a great day for fans at home after beating rivals Portland the week before, behind the back of some Robert Earnshaw heroics.
#3 Whitecaps FC 3-1 LA Galaxy (May 11th, 2013) Home
Russell Teibert had the game of his life in this one, scoring 2 goals and announcing himself to MLS with a good performance. While he had been solid for the Caps up until this point, it opened his MLS account and gave him a little confidence going forward. It was Vancouver’s first victory in MLS against LA, as they had failed in their first 5 attempts. Interestingly, Teibert came off the bench in the 30th minute as Daigo Kobiyashi came off injured, truly fitting the definition of an “impact sub”. Was a pretty back and forward affair, and the Caps responded to a late goal from Gyasi Zardes with a Darren Mattocks tally, putting the game out of reach for LA and picking up that first victory in the MLS era for Vancouver.
#2 Whitecaps FC 1-0 LA Galaxy (June 6th, 2015) Away
One of the most famous Robinson snatch and grab victories, Vancouver pulled off the highly improbable as they ended LA’s lengthy 29-game unbeaten run at home, picking up one of the unlikeliest upsets in MLS history. While Vancouver was in good form in 2015, and eventually finished 3rd in the league, at the time LA was still a bogeyman of sorts for them, especially for matches in LA. Kekuta Manneh opened the scoring in the 30th minute as he provided a signature finish as he cut inside and slammed a low one past LA’s Brian Rowe. Despite LA pushing forward all match, Vancouver tore them apart on the counter, hitting 2 posts and squandering many other chances, as they could have won 3 or 4-0. This match makes fans wonder what could have been for Robinson, because if they could have hit this level of counter-attacking in playoffs games they definitely could have made some more noise than they did end up making over the years. Considering the chances, the historic nature of the result and how good the season was, this one ranks a lot better than the other 1-0 that came in at number 5 on this list.
#1 Whitecaps FC 4-2 LA Galaxy (April 1st, 2017) Home
One of the most exciting matches in recent memory, Vancouver came out to play in this one, grabbing 4 goals and erasing a 2-1 LA lead. This match was Tony Tchani’s first appearance for Vancouver after the Kekuta Manneh trade, and he made an immediate impact, allowing for Matias Laba to push forward and pick up a very rare brace for the hard-tackling Argentine. Fredy Montero picked up his first MLS goal with the Whitecaps in this one as well, snatching on a rebound and tying up the game at 2-2. LA had a strong first half, erasing a horrendous mistake from keeper Clement Diop as he gave the ball away 30 yards from his goal, giving Christian Techera a freebie. LA picked up 2 quick goals and putting the mistake behind them as they headed into the second half. Vancouver came out flying in the second half, picking up 3 goals and kickstarting their season, as they got into some great form after this one. It was a very entertaining affair, as both teams got many chances, including Vancouver picking up 10(!!) shots on goal. If we were to see a repeat of this one tonight, every fan would likely leave the stadium happy, as it was a rare offensive barnburner seen under Robinson.
As mentioned previously, the Caps look to recreate some of the magic from these matches as they chase their first victory of 2019. While no one knows what’s in store, the Caps look confident after picking up their first points of 2019, while LA looks in fine form as their stars look to continue some good starts to the season.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs LA Galaxy
April 5th, 2019
19:00 PST, BC Place, Vancouver.