The Vancouver Whitecaps took on the LA Galaxy on Sunday, picking up their 6th draw in the last 8 games with a 1-1 result against their Western Conference rivals. Here’s our match report from that one.
It’s a hard result to quantify.
On one hand, after their 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy on Sunday, the Vancouver Whitecaps now have just 1 win in their last 13 games, sitting stuck at the bottom of MLS’s Western Conference standings with 16 points.
On the other, they’ve picked up points in 7 of their last 8 games, including some big road points, slowly turning a corner after a rough summer that saw them lose 5 games in a row.
Plus, having done well to come back from down 1-1 to snatch a point off of a Galaxy side currently sitting 3rd in the West, just 2 points off of 1st place, it’d feel hard to press the panic point after a result like this.
“In MLS, many teams would like to go in the road and get the results that we’re getting in difficult places,” ‘Caps head coach, Marc Dos Santos, said after the game. “But the problem is that we are where we are because we haven’t played at home, and we haven’t played at home in so long, so we have to go win on the road, and that’s not easy to do, but every point matters.”
At the same time, though, the wins got to come soon for this ‘Caps side, who are quickly sinking down the Western Conference table despite the decent run as of late, especially as they continue to leave points on the table every game out.
To return to the game, though, the performance was a good one, as the ‘Caps did well to recover from a nightmare start to play great in the 2nd half, allowing them to pick up the point, even though they’ll feel they should’ve probably picked up all 3 based on how they were playing.
So all things considered, it was far from a bad game, but it’ll certainly be another one in a long line of them that they might want to have back.
And to start, the ‘Caps would find the first chance of the game, as Deiber Caicedo had a decent look at goal, but he sent his shot well over the goal, much to the relief of the Galaxy. At the other end, Jonathan Dos Santos had a go in the 13th minute, but his attempt would also go well wide of the goal.
Then, in the 17th minute, the ‘Caps would pick up the best attempt of the game to that point, as Deiber Caicedo found a wide-open Ranko Veselinovic at the back post off of a set-piece, but the defender sent his shot right at Jonathan Bond in the LA goal.
Shortly after, the traffic would shift to the other side, as Kevin Cabral missed a chance that he probably would’ve liked to have back in the 22nd minute, as he cut inside nicely, but sent his shot over.
A few minutes later, Derrick Williams then did well to get up for a nice corner in from the right side, but his glanced header would hit the top of the goal and go out, much to the relief of Maxime Crepeau in the ‘Caps goal.
Soon after, the ‘Caps would then almost be given a gift of an opening goal, as Bond made a sloppy turnover right to Caicedo at the edge of his box, but the Colombian was unable to punish the LA goalkeeper for his mistake, as he’d shoot the ball right at the Englishmen.
But afterwards, it would be all LA to end the half, as they really turned up the pressure in chase of an opening goal.
First, Samuel Grandsir found a bit of space in the box in the 28th minute, but he somehow sent his shot over the goal despite being wide-open, giving the ‘Caps yet another lifeline
Then, the Galaxy found their opening goal in the 32nd minute, as Efrain Alvarez found a wide-open Kevin Cabral inside the box, and the French winger this time made no mistake with his opportunity, slotting the ball into the low corner to open the scoring.
From there, they’d cruise into halftime with their lead intact, and based on how the game was trending, it was a fair result, as the Galaxy were quite obviously the better team.
The ‘Caps always had that threat of being able to create something out of nothing, which they showed right in the 45th minute when Lucas Cavallini nearly snuck in a bicycle kick after a nothing cross, but they needed to generate more to find themselves back into the game.
And to be fair, they then did that, as they woke up completely in the 2nd half, starting to look more like the Whitecaps side that we’ve seen as of late.
Thanks to that, they found an equalizer in the 50th minute, as Caicedo whipped in a fantastic ball off of a corner, and Ranko Veselinovic rose highest to meet it, nodding home the ball off of the post to tie the game up.
And while the goal was nice to score, and it was much-needed, it was nice to see that it came off of the back of some ‘Caps pressure, as they’d finally woken up to start the second stanza, giving them belief that they could win the game.
After that, though, the game would quiet right down, as both teams settled into the routine of the match.
The next good chance would come in the 68th minute, as Rayan Raveloson found some space at the edge of the box, but he’d send his shot too close to Crepeau, who’d easily catch the ball to keep the game tied.
Off of the back of that, the Galaxy would continue to push for a winner, and they came close to finding that off of a corner just a few minutes later, as Grandsir found some space in the box, but his hard shot would be palmed out by Crepeau.
Not to be outdone, either, Crepeau would continue his masterful 2nd half in the 73rd minute, as Grandsir once again found himself open in the box, but his low shot would be kicked out by Crepeau’s outstretched leg, as he did his best to keep his team in the game.
Boosted on by that, the ‘Caps would then find a bit of life at the other end of the field. Buoyed by the insertion of their new DP #10, Ryan Gauld, who made his debut off of the bench, he made an immediate impact, setting up Ryan Raposo for a nice shot in the 80th minute, one that Bond had to desperately palm out to keep the game level.
That push would continue right into the 88th minute, as Brian White had a good chance to flick home a late winner, but his chance bounced off his knee and out, keeping the game tied.
Soon after, Gauld nearly had his magic moment in the 92nd minute, as Russell Teibert managed to play him in behind the Galaxy defence, and despite being at a tough angle and standing just outside of the box, Gauld went for a chip, which was only desperately clawed off of the line by Bond at the last minute, saving his team once again.
But despite that late frenzy, that would be all this game would have to offer, leaving the ‘Caps to settle for their 4th consecutive draw, and 6th in their last 8 games.
“In the 2nd half, we were much better,” Dos Santos said. “We addressed things much better, and we were able to get a point, an important one.”
So while the ‘Caps have done well to pick up points in 7 of their last 8 games, that’s only left them with 9 points from that 8 game stretch, or in other numbers, is equivalent to them winning just 3 of those 8 games, and losing the other 5.
Because of that, it’s hard to judge this latest run of form.
On one hand, they’ve done well to pick up points, including a few in some tough away environments, but on the other hand, they need to turn some of these draws into wins, because if not, it’ll be hard for them to find a way back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference.
Overall, they’ve been playing much better soccer than they were playing during the nightmare run of form that saw them lose 5 straight back in May and June, which is good to see, but hopefully the results can finally start to follow soon, giving them some new life as they pass the halfway point of this campaign.
Despite just winning 1 out of their last 13 games, they’re only 7 points out of a playoff spot, with some games in hand, so hopefully a long-awaited return to Vancouver for home games, along with these new signings, gives them that new life.
Player of the Match: Deiber Caicedo
Moving on, Caicedo is our pick for player of the game in this one, as he was lively all night, and was rewarded for his efforts with a nice assist on the ‘Caps equalizer.
After a decent start to the season, he’s come on a big way as of late, picking up 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 7 games, quietly becoming one of the ‘Caps better players on this roster.
For a player who’s just 21 years of age, he’s starting to grow into the player that many expected him to be at the start of the year, which is quite exciting considering that he’s still got a lot more to give on the pitch.
But based on this current run of form, you can’t help but be excited about what he can do when he hits that full potential, because he’s already become a huge part of this ‘Caps offensive set-up.
BTSVancity Player to Watch: Maxime Crepeau
Otherwise, we picked Crepeau as our player to watch in this game, and he certainly lived up to that distinction as the game wore on, picking up 5 saves, many of them big ones, en route to helping his team pick up a valuable point.
And considering his defence was nowhere to be found on the opening goal, he doesn’t have much to regret on that tally, either, as it was a pretty solid performance from the Canadian, all things considered.
After a solid Gold Cup for Canada, he didn’t miss a beat on Sunday, showing why he’s one of the most important ‘Caps when he’s in the squad.
Heatmap of the Match:
Elsewhere, the ‘Caps actually had a decent showing in this section, at least considering how poor they were in the first half.
They still need to work on getting into the final 3rd more, but to be fair they started to do that a lot more in the 2nd half, especially when Gauld was on the field, showing that there is some light at the end of the tunnel there.
Because of that, it’s hard to imagine many more dark days in this section, which is certainly an exciting prospect to look forward to.
xG plot of the Match:
Lastly, it was also a decent showing once again from the ‘Caps in this section, as well, as they overcame a slow start to make this game quite respectable in terms of Expected Goals (xG).
Again, you can probably chalk it up to the Gauld effect, but it’s worth noting that the ‘Caps have started to win the xG battle consistently these past few games, so it’s also a sign of their overall growth of a group as of late.
So with Gauld now in the fold, it’s exciting to project how their numbers might be now, as they’ve finally got their attacking midfield general that can help them create chances on a more regular basis, especially that they’ve found a bit of consistency on the defensive end, as well.
Now, it’ll be a big week of training for the ‘Caps, before they get set to take on the San Jose Earthquakes in a pivotal game at the end of the week.
With the ‘Quakes sitting just 5 points ahead of Vancouver in 10th in the MLS standings, this will be a good opportunity for the ‘Caps to finally start to crawl out of the Western Conference basement, of which they’ve been stuck at the bottom for a while now.
But again, with their results slowly starting to trend in the right direction as of late, there is potential for optimism once again, especially with their long-awaited return to BC Place finally sitting just around the corner.
So although they need a win as much as a fly needs some good honey, they’ll hope this positive wave of momentum can help them find a few more of them in the coming weeks, as they kick off the 2nd half of their 2021 MLS season.
“What I saw this week was good,” Dos Santos said. “Guys are growing, the sessions are becoming more competitive, and that allows the team to grow, so I think is that where we are right now, there’s a lot of guys fighting for positions, a lot of guys are options to play, and that’s the important thing right now.”
Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs San Jose Earthquakes, Friday, August 13th, 2021, 19:30 PDT, 22:30 EDT (PayPal Park, San Jose)
Cover Photo via: LA Galaxy/Twitter