CARSON, Calif. – LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano breaks down LA’s 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM UP TOP PAYS OFF FOR THE GALAXY
The LA Galaxy didn’t have the services of Robbie Keane up top on Saturday, but with a pair of young forwards in Jose Villarreal and Gyasi Zardes taking over, the Galaxy excelled.
The youthful exuberance of the forward tandem showed immediately as they repeatedly created dangerous scoring opportunities for the Galaxy. With a steady onslaught on the Whitecaps goal, the goals soon came as Villarreal was able to tap in a Gonzalez header from close range in the 29th minute. But the finest effort of the night belonged to Zardes, who put in a stunning individual effort on his goal in the 57th minute Off a long pass from Todd Dunivant, Zardes was able to keep the ball from crossing the end line and then shake two Whitecaps defenders and slot in a right-footed shot into the net past Brad Knighton.
The goal is likely to do wonders for Zardes’ confidence as the forward has created plenty of chances during his recent run of 10 consecutive starts, but hasn’t been able to finish. With Keane’s return date from his hip flexor injury still unknown, look for the Galaxy to keep the young pair together next week against the Colorado Rapids if Keane is unable to go.
GALAXY SEE OUT LAST 15 MINUTES WITH CLEVER TACTICS
The last 15 minutes of matches have proved to be vexing for the LA Galaxy this season, but on Saturday, there were no such problems.
With their past struggles in the back of their mind, the Galaxy were efficient in the closing minutes as they repeatedly made the play necessary to stop the Whitecaps attack. Whether it was Carlo Cudicini’s clutch save on Kenny Miller in the 73rd minute or clearing out a few late set piece opportunities in stoppage time, LA were able to get out with the full three points.
When the Galaxy went forward, they showed willingness to burn time off clock by playing balls to the corner flag or spraying passes across the field. Even in the 89th minute when Laurent Courtois found himself on the breakaway with plenty of room to attack, he took a turn away from the goal in hopes of running seconds off the clock. In the moments when the Whitecaps threatened, the Galaxy defense was alert as they were able to clear a pair of dangerous Vancouver set pieces to preserve the victory.
Now the tough part begins. Although the Galaxy have shown an ability to close out games this season, they must now show that they can apply these practices on a consistent basis—starting with next Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
LINEUP CHANGES REPRESENT FURTHER OPTIONS IN MIDFIELD
The absence of Robbie Rogers due to a right hamstring injury caused a shuffling in the Galaxy midfield, which may have opened up further options for LA heading into the hectic summer months.
With Rogers unavailable, head coach Bruce Arena gave veteran midfield Pablo Mastroeni his first start in a Galaxy uniform, placing him alongside Juninho in the center of the field while moving Marcelo Sarvas out left. The move resulted in an energetic yet physical midfield that overwhelmed the Whitecaps and dominated the possession by a 53.3 to 46.7 margin. While Mastroeni was his normally tidy self, Sarvas seemed liberated by the move as he was able to frequently press himself into the attack and connect with LA’s forwards.
It is worth mentioning that neither switch is likely to be utilized once the Galaxy hold a full roster, but a lesson was learned as they represent more options for the Galaxy boss in midfield.
Adam Serrano is the LA Galaxy Insider. Read his blog at LAGalaxy.com/Insider and contact him at LAGalaxyInsider@Gmail.com