Whitecaps youngsters tire of chasing Galaxy in loss

April 14, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment
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The first leg of the home-and-away series verses the LA Galaxy featured an experimental line-up.  For the Los Angeles leg Carl Robinson was faced with a suspended Mathias Laba and a still-recovering Nigel Reo-Coker;  our key midfielders were unavailable.  Robinson decided to put a young squad out to rattle the Galaxy with speed and pressure.  It nearly worked.  

Robinson played Gershon Koffie and Russell Tiebert in front of the usual back four of Beitashour, DeMerit, Obrien and Harvey.  Kekuta Manneh started on the left side of midfield, alongside Morales in the middle and Fernandez on the right.  Darren Mattocks sprinted around alone up front.  

The Whitecaps chased and harried the Galaxy in the first half, so much so they were able to keep the Galaxy uncomfortable on the ball.  Though the Galaxy had the lion’s share of possession, the Whitecaps looked dangerous when Mattocks and Manneh were able to get some room to run with the ball.  The Whitecaps created clear chances but came up against their nemesis Jaime Penedo in the Galaxy goal.  Only two excellent saves by Penedo off of point blank shots by Kekuta Manneh kept the Galaxy on a clean sheet in the first half which they would eventually keep.   Darren Mattocks also had a good chance which the Panamanian saved.  

At half time it was anybody’s match, and the Whitecaps went to the dressing room looking like they would score at least one. 

The second half the Whitecaps reverted to traditional form which is expected of away matches against the Galaxy.  They were still sleeping from half time when they gave up a goal just one minute into the second half. Perhaps they were just tired from all of that running in the first half.

A long ball from the Galaxy half found Stefan Ishizaki to the right of goal.  DeMerit conceded possession and closed Ishizaki down.  Meanwhile, Robbie Keane moved into the penalty area in the space left by O’Brien, who retreated to support DeMerit.  Gershon Koffie saw Keane running, made an attempt to catch him, and then inexplicably gave up the chase at the top of the penalty box, allowing Keane to run into the box on O’Brien’s blind side unopposed.  Ishizaki curled the ball around DeMerit to find Keane who had the easiest of finishes.  It was a beautifully executed goal, the only problem was the ball ended up in the Whitecaps’ net.

Gershon Koffie has a lot of explaining to do for just giving up the chase of Keane, and for not communicating with O’Brien about Keane’s approach.  In his fourth season with the Whitecaps in MLS, Koffie still has a lot of maturing to do. At the level the Galaxy plays, one mistake is all they need to punish you. 

Robinson waited rather long to bring Kenny Miller into the match, and when he did so in the 70th minute he brought Erik Hurtado into the match at the same time for Morales and Fernandez, who had both long disappeared from this match.  Miller nearly stole one off of a clever corner kick by Mezquida but his near post header went straight at Penedo, who seems to have a supernatural touch when it comes to playing the Whitecaps.  Hurtado was completely useless as usual, and looked like the guy who shows up at the park for a kick-around who has never played soccer.  Why the Whitecaps keep this guy in the roster is beyond me; speed alone will not cut it in the MLS. 

Given Manneh’s earlier close misses in the first half, I was surprised to see Mezquida brought in for Manneh with 15 minutes left.  By this time Robinson seemed to be just rolling the dice and thinking beyond this game to the next match this coming Saturday.  

The loss was the Whitecaps’ second in a row, but the match showed some positive signs for the season.   The Whitecaps were unlucky not to score in this match, and really gave LA a game.  I expect we will see a dramatically different line-up when the Galaxy come to town for the return leg, With Laba and Reo-Coker involved from the start.  

I don’t know why but I feel positive that we will win.   




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