Despite losing three starting players in the first half, a determined Vancouver Whitecaps FC held the visiting LA Galaxy to a 0-0 draw in front of 27,038 fans at BC Place on Saturday evening.
The Whitecaps played most of this game down a man, as midfielder Matías Laba was shown a controversial red card for a tackle on the Galaxy’s Mike Magee in the 28th minute.
“Great character, great spirit, great fight by the group, by the 10 guys” said head coach Carl Robinson in his post-match press conference.
Assuming that the red card will not be overturned by MLS, Laba will be suspended for Vancouver’s next match against D.C. United. Losing players to suspension is nothing new to the Whitecaps, who have already had three other players retroactively suspended by the notorious Disciplinary Committee this season.
By the letter of the law, Laba’s studs were up and you could argue that the correct call was made. But Laba was well and truly committed when Magee moved on to make a play for the ball. It was a harsh call, and probably an overreaction.
The sending off baffled Robinson, who said “we have one of the top midfielder players in the league who’s made a tackle today and and he’s been sent off. And I’m not sure why.”
So far this weekend in @MLS, 4 red cards, 31 yellows. 8 games played.
— Peter Schaad (@PeteSchaad) April 3, 2016
“There’s too many red cards in this league” a candid LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said.
Laba’s sending off was not the only challenge that faced the Robinson in the first half. Midfielder Pedro Morales was forced to leave the match with a hip injury after only playing for twenty minutes. He was later joined on the touchline by Kekuta Manneh who injured his ankle just before half time.
While the Galaxy were without the services of the injured trio of Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard, and Giovani dos Santos, Bruce Arena had other attacking options including substitutes Gyasi Zardes and Alan Gordon.
The Whitecaps played a defensively responsible second half, and did an effective job of absorbing the pressure from the Galaxy.
Both Zardes and Gordon both had opportunities to steal a win for the visitors.
In the 70th minute Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted made one of the best saves of the season thus far when he denied Zardes from point-blank range.
“It was the face,” Ousted said when explaining the save on Zardes. “The work of the back four, the work of the midfield made it that nil-nil game today. We were tough to break down and I think that’s why the Galaxy didn’t get the goal.”
Deep in second half stoppage time Alan Gordon came within inches of beating Ousted, but saw his header miss at the far post.
“I’m happy for them because if we wouldn’t have took anything from the game after the amount of work they put in I would have been seriously disappointed… We’ll take a point and move on.”
The Whitecaps are next in action when they play D.C. United (0W-2L-3D) on Saturday, April 9th at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.