Answering the dual questions of “can they score at home” and “can they win at home”, the Vancouver Whitecaps did just that on Saturday night, defeating the LA Galaxy 4-2 in front of an April Fool’s Day crowd of 25,083.
“From the first whistle we set out to play with intensity on the front foot and I thought we were very unlucky in the first half to be 2-1 down because the attacking football we play didn’t have the reward,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said in his post-match media conference.
“I said to them at half time, ‘Keep doing the same things, get into the same areas, keep believing and show passion.’ And they did, they got a reward.”
The magical adventures of Clement Diop
Ever since German international goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made the aggressive style of goalkeeping known as “sweeper keeper” fashionable again, ‘keepers around the world have been trying to emulate the art with varying results.
It would appear Galaxy goalkeeper Clement Diop is one of those adherents.
— Adam Serrano (@LAGalaxyInsider) April 2, 2017
It would also appear he hasn’t quite fine-tuned the style just yet. He was at fault for the opening goal…
…as well as a few good chances like this one:
I was going to write something about how Cristian Techera’s efforts deserved a goal tonight, but that miss… euggghh. No.
Point is, Diop’s aggression cost his team a goal and it could’ve (should’ve) been more.
Credit where credit is due, though; Diop had Techera’s number all night:
Was it a penalty?
Alphonso Davies certainly thought so. The energetic attacker was not a happy camper after this encounter with Jelle Van Damme.
Tough call given the angles we have. It’s clear Van Damme does not get the ball. However, either Van Damme brought his leg back at the nick of time and Davies pitched himself over (no penalty), or Van Damme does clip Davies with his knee (penalty).
Either way, that left arm of Van Damme’s looks pretty suspicious. If that is a shove, that’s enough to give a penalty regardless.
So, to summarize: logical, analytical Rituro says “no” on the grounds of too close to call; scarf-and-obscenities Rituro says “COME ON, REF, YOU [expletive]” plus some other choice expressions.
Matias Laba has been ever-present for the Whitecaps since they were gifted the defensive midfielder by Toronto FC. (Fun fact: it helps to be able to count to three when signing new Designated Players. Thanks, Toronto!)
Laba is a destroyer, pure and simple, who makes the midfield hell for all those who deign enter it.
So, naturally, to celebrate his 100th MLS match with the Whitecaps, he does this:
Now that’s how you mark a special day. Celebrate, good sir!
(Ooh, shades of Kendall Waston versus Colorado in 2014!)
Please note the two players involved in the build-up to the Laba go-ahead goal: Cristian Techera and Fredy Montero. They were both involved in the equalizing goal just moments earlier, courtesy of an inch-perfect cross by Alphonso Davies:
Now that’s how you make a defensive teammate’s special day easier.
Oh, but you think that’s it?
You think it’s over?
It is now!
“Maybe I can help in attacking more and help the team in this part of the field,” Laba told reporters post-match.
If you had Laba down for a brace tonight, you’re a liar and a scoundrel. You’re also absolutely correct, so, darn you, you lying scoundrel.
Laba absolutely makes that final goal. His charging header to break up the LA attack and start the counter is an unexpected burst of offensive activity, catching everyone by surprise. A pass and a shot later and Laba’s never going to forget this night. We shouldn’t, either.
- Whoever managed to get that time machine working to bring back the Techera of 2015 deserves a medal. El Bicho was unplayable by the LA defence.
- Equally unplayable (until they triple-teamed the heck out of him) was Davies. Notice how nobody mentions his age anymore. He’s a pro now, first and foremost.
- I think we can call the “Bolaños as a #10” experiment a rousing success.
- Andrew Jacobson had a hot start to the game but fell off rapidly. His replacement by Tony Tchani was unsurprising and Tchani gave a decent if not unspectacular account of himself. This will be an interesting battle for playing time.
- FREE HAIRCUTS!
Whoop whoop! We all get free haircuts #VWFC
— Monique Cloutier (@cloutier68) April 2, 2017
Budweiser Man of the Match: Matías Laba
Referee: Allen Chapman
19′ – VAN – Cristian Techera (Sheanon Williams)
26′ – LA – Romain Alessandrini (Jermaine Jones)
30′ – LA – Romain Alessandrini (Emmanuel Boateng, Jack McBean)
66′ – VAN – Fredy Montero
67′ – VAN – Matías Laba (Fredy Montero)
87′ – VAN – Matías Laba
Possession: Vancouver 46.2% – LA 53.8%
Shots: Vancouver 16 – LA 15
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 10 – LA 2
Saves: Vancouver 0 – LA 5
Fouls: Vancouver 14 – LA 7
Offsides: Vancouver 2 – LA 1
Corners: Vancouver 7 – LA 8
60′ – LA – Jack McBean
77′ – LA – Jermaine Jones
80′ – VAN – Fredy Montero
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 25.Sheanon Williams, 4.Kendall Waston ©, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey (17.Marcel de Jong 90’+2′); 8.Andrew Jacobson (16.Tony Tchani 64′), 15.Matías Laba; 67.Alphonso Davies, 7.Christian Bolaños, 13.Cristian Techera; 19.Erik Hurtado (12.Fredy Montero HT)
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 11.Nicolás Mezquida, 22.Christian Dean, 31.Russell Teibert
31.Clément Diop; 16.Nathan Smith, 5.Daniel Steres, 37.Jelle Van Damme ©, 3.Ashley Cole (4.Dave Romney 82′); 13.Jermaine Jones, 7.Romain Alessandrini; 24.Emmanuel Boateng (38.Bradford Jamieson 79′), 10.Giovani dos Santos, 8.Joao Pedro; 32.Jack McBean (11.Gyasi Zardes 67′)
Substitutes not used
12.Brian Rowe, 6.Baggio Husidic, 25.Rafael Garcia, 33.Jose Villareal