Three Points: Keys to shutting down Vancouver
CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano provides his Three Points looking ahead to tonight’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps…
1) WIN THE MIDFIELD BATTLE
Saturday’s match will be determined by the battle in the center of the park between LA’s Juninho and David Beckham and their ability to stop a talented Vancouver trio of Barry Robson, Camilo and Dane Richards.
During LA's last meeting with the Whitecaps, a 2-2 draw on July 18, Robson and the Whitecaps midfield dominated in the first half, providing considerable pressure on the Galaxy's back four en route to two early goals. However, in the second half, led by the play of Beckham and Marcelo Sarvas, LA flipped the script asserting pressure on the 'Caps before scoring two goals late to steal a draw at BC Place.
If LA’s midfield can control the tempo early, it will allow midfielders like Beckham, Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas to create chances for a Galaxy offense that has scored an impressive seven goals in three MLS games.
2) SHUT DOWN KENNY MILLER AND THE 'CAPS ATTACK
The Whitecaps may be sputtering as of late, dropping their last three straight with just one goal in that span, but Vancouver brings a dynamic attack spearheaded by Scottish forward Kenny Miller to Saturday’s clash at The Home Depot Center.
Since joining the ‘Caps in July, the Scottish forward has struggled to adapt to the league, but tallied the first goal—and his first shot on goal—of his MLS career last week during Vancouver’s 2-1 defeat to the Portland Timbers. With Jamaican speedster Darren Mattocks suspended for the match, the onus will be on Miller to create offense for Vancouver.
The task of stopping Miller will fall to LA’s center back tandem of Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza. Currently in the best form of the season, expect LA’s center back duo to use their mix of physicality and speed to place pressure on Miller and prevent him from testing the Galaxy goal.
3) PLAYOFF PREVIEW?
The match will serve as potential playoff preview for the Galaxy and the Whitecaps as the two teams currently find themselves locked in the fourth and fifth spots in the Western Conference standings respectively.
If the season ended today, the two teams would find themselves facing off against one another in the 2012 MLS Cup Play-In Round for the right to play the West’s first place team—currently the San Jose Earthquakes—in the Conference semifinals.
With both teams fighting to move up the table and solidify their playoff positioning, Saturday’s match promises to be a high-intensity match. Ultimately, the team that is able to rise to the occasion will be able to earn a vital three points.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider