Three Points: LA Galaxy seek road win in vital Western Conference clash with Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to LA’s pivotal matchup with Whitecaps FC

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USA Today Sports

VANCOUVER, B.C. –LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano’s Three Points to LA’s match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The match is the final regular season meeting between the two clubs, who are each in the running for a postseason berth. The two sides split the first two games of the series with the Galaxy winning 2-1 at home on July 20 and the Whitecaps claiming a 3-1 win at BC Place on May 11.

STOP CAMILO AND KENNY MILLER

Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane are considered the finest strike tandem in MLS, but the Vancouver Whitecaps FC duo of Camilo and Kenny Miller is just as dangerous.

The two forwards have combined for a total of 21 goals this season, with Camilo currently leading MLS in goals scored with a 14. What make the pair effective are their contrasting styles as Miller is a target forward that spends most of the match with his back to goal awaiting service while Camilo is prone to drop into the midfield –much like Keane – and create opportunities for himself as well as others. What makes Camilo’s wanderlust dangerous is that it causes defenders to break their lines and follow the clever Brazilian, which opens up space for Vancouver’s other weapons.

Although Camilo and Miller have feasted on defenses this season, the key for the Galaxy is to limit the space that the forwards receive in the attacking third. In their two meetings with the Galaxy this season, Vancouver has created goals by getting their attacking players into space and letting them run at the LA defense. The Galaxy get bodies are those players quickly, limiting their space and decision-making abilities in order to pick up a much-needed victory at BC Place.

MINIMIZE THE IMPACT OF REO-COKER

Camilo and Kenny Miller have scored the goals, and Homegrown midfielder Russell Teibert leads Vancouver in assists, but the club’s most valuable player this season has been midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker.

Playing as part of a three-man central midfield unit, typically with Gershon Koffie and either Jun Marques Davidson or Daigo Kobayashi, Reo-Coker has been the primary linking piece for Vancouver as they transition from defense to attack. Equally adept at breaking up possession as he is with whipping balls up field, he has become a vital piece to Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie’s operation. He was dominant in his side’s 3-1 win over Lain May, bossing the midfield throughout the contest, though he had less of an impact during the two sides’ last meeting on July 20, allowing Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas to control the game.

To minimize his impact, it will be important for the Galaxy to maintain possession for wide stretches, which forces Reo-Coker to retreat deeper defensively, which limits his chances to link up with Vancouver’s attackers. Expect the likes of Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho to seek to dictate the tempo in the midfield and limit the Englishman’s touches.

BREAK THE HEX AT BC PLACE

On Saturday, the LA Galaxy will be looking for their first ever victory at BC Place, a place where the club has had its difficulties over the past two seasons.

The Galaxy demolished Vancouver 4-0 in their first match in British Columbia at the old Empire Field, but since the move to BC Place, LA have struggled. In two matches at BC Place, the Galaxy have taken just one point from a 0-1-1 record at the sterling stadium along the Vancouver waterfront. Each time LA have traveled to Vancouver, they have fallen behind by multiple goals and needed a pair of stellar finishes from David Beckham and Jose Villarreal to salvage a point in July 2012.

This season, Vancouver has shined at BC Place with eight home wins this season, which is tied with the Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes, and Montreal Impact for the league’s best total. What makes playing at BC Place difficult? The stadium’s turf field is an obvious factor, as LA are 0-3-0 on artificial surfaces this season, but the main reason is Vancouver’s ability to score late goals, which, of course, has been a bugaboo of the Galaxy throughout the season. In order to find their first ever victory at BC Place and their first win away from StubHub Center since May, a complete performance will be mandatory.