CRACK THE ‘CAPS BUNKER
From the opening kickoff of their Knockout Round match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the LA Galaxy expect to dominate possession against the defense-first ‘Caps, but what they do with that possession will ultimately determine if the Galaxy can advance.
In their scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake last week, Vancouver’s 4-3-2-1 formation proved impossible for Salt Lake’s offense to break. In Thursday’s Knockout Round, the Galaxy are expecting much of the same from Vancouver. This means that the attacking impetus will fall to LA, who are expected to use constant pressure from the likes of Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, and Robbie Keane to crack Vancouver.
But as LA look to break through against the Whitecaps, the Galaxy must be patient and prevent any mental lapses that could allow the Whitecaps to begin to create scoring opportunities on their own.
WATCH THE COUNTER
Controlling possession may lead to more scoring chances for the Galaxy, but they must stay alert as the Whitecaps look to hit them on the break.
Speed on the flanks has been one aspect of Vancouver’s game that has given their opposition fits this season as the play of Jamaican speedsters Dane Richards and rookie sensation Darren Mattocks. Tremendously athletic, the duo combined for 10 goals and two assists during the regular season while providing the type of speed that few in MLS have been able to contain.
To counteract this weapon, LA’s back four must be physical from the start to keep Richards and Mattocks in front of them. If LA can knock those two off their game, it may cause Vancouver to look to centrally for offense, playing right into LA’s defensive strength.
USE EXPERIENCE TO THEIR ADVANTAGE
The LA Galaxy’s season has come to just one match and if they do not come on top after 90 minutes (or possibly even 120), then their hopes of defending their MLS Cup title will end.
As LA look to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals, this thought must be in the forefront of LA’s minds as they take on a Whitecaps side making their first postseason appearance. Against an inexperienced opponent, the Galaxy will need to draw upon the experiences of last year’s title run, as well as the mistakes of 2009 and 2010 to advance past Vancouver.
But for rookie defender Tommy Meyer, the one member for the Galaxy starting XI without the postseason experience, it’ll be important to lean on playoff-hardened teammates like Todd Dunivant and Omar Gonzalez for guidance.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com