After drawing the Red Bulls in New York, the Vancouver Whitecaps travel to the opposite coast to face the MLS leading LA Galaxy. Their last meeting, at Empire Field, the Caps played the Galaxy close for about sixty minutes before the flood gates opened and Vancouver suffered their worst ever home defeat. While this is a matchup between the best and worst team in the MLS table, the Caps are looking to pull off a huge upset in Southern California.
The trio of Hassli, Chiumiento and Camilo need a fourth and that may be Gershon Koffie out of the central midfield. The Whitecaps are lacking a threat from that part of the pitch and if Koffie can contribute on a consistent basis the missed chances will be converted more regularly.
The co-leader for the MLS golden boot, Landon Donovan, scored twice and assisted on another against the Caps in the previous matchup. The American World Cup star has been playing nearer to the goal as opposed to his normal left midfield spot.
If the Caps are looking for a result against L.A. then Joe Cannon will have to stand on his head and make a couple of spectacular saves. The MLS veteran will be appearing in his 300th game against his former team and coming off an incredible performance against New York.
In his third season out of college Omar Gozalez has established himself as one of the best young central defenders in MLS. An excellent defender, Gonzalez is a threat on set pieces for the Galaxy as he has already scored twice this season.
WHO’S ON FORM
After a rough stretch where he admitted to lack fitness, Davide Chiumiento has bounced with two straight strong performances including his goal last week. In addition to his skill and creativity, Chiumiento has displayed a strong work ethic battling for the ball all over the pitch.
Scoring in his debut for the Galaxy, Robbie Keane has been brought along slowly in order to build up his fitness for the playoffs. He was extremely dangerous for the Galaxy in their last Champions League game scoring a goal and having one called back on a phantom offside call.
9th in Western Conference
Last Game: 1-1 Draw at New York Red Bulls
1st in Western Conference
Last Game: 1-0 Win vs Colorado Rapids
DOUBTFUL: MF John Thorrington (groin), MF Michael Nanchoff (hip/knee)
PROBABLE: MF Davide Chiumiento (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: MF David Beckham (back), Juninho (hamstring)
Despite giving up the lead in the second half to a ten man squad, the Whitecaps put together their best performance on the road. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps it only lasted for 55 of the 90 minute match as they were unable to maintain any kind of pressure. In order to get any kind of result against the best team in MLS the Caps will have to extend last week’s play to a full 90 minutes.
The goals for the Whitecaps will most likely come from Hassli, Chiumiento up front or Camilo on the wing. The trio were the main offensive cogs against New York and the drop in the team’s play coincided with Chiumiento getting injured and Camilo losing his legs after a long break. The Whitecaps will need either Salinas, on the wing, or Koffie, central midfield, to help contribute with the offensive chances. Pairing up with Koffie will be veteran Peter Vagenas who normally plays in a deeper position in front of the backline.
Joe Cannon will appear in 300th game as the starting goalkeeper for the Caps and will have the pair of DeMerit and Rochat in front of him. The Whitecaps will have Jordan Harvey on the left side but who start on the right is a question mark. It will be one of John Thorrington, injury question, Jonathan Leathers, trust issues, or Jeb Brovsky, lack of experience.
Defensively the Whitecaps will have to deal with Irish striker Robbie Keane who had not signed with the Galaxy before their last matchup. The weakest part of their backline will have to deal with LA’s best goalscorer as whoever starts at right back will go head to head with Landon Donovan so expect Salinas to drop back to assist in defensive coverage. If Beckham is cleared to play the Caps will have to avoid committing fouls in dangerous areas as the English international is very accurate with his free kicks scoring goals or finding teammates.
The club needs another player to join Chiumiento, Hassli and Camilo in order to contribute offensively and balance out the scoring. The Caps have Salinas , who scored against Houston, and Koffie, scoring against Chicago, as perfect candidates but neither player has done it on a consistent basis. As normal, the Caps will have to provide service to their lone striker, Hassli, who will need to find space against a solid Galaxy defense.
It’s difficult to identify with who the Galaxy will have in their starting eleven especially with Champions League matches becoming a regular occurrence. The game against the Whitecaps will be their fourth match of seven in the month of September which could have some players sitting out as they rotate players. This could help the Whitecaps catch L.A. on an off night allowing the club to another opportunity to get a result in difficult spot.