Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scored his eighth goal of the 2021 MLS season and Efrain Alvarez scored a magical late winner as the teams traded goals in a dramatic bout of second-half stoppage time to give the LA Galaxy a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night.
While the Galaxy dominated first-half possession, clocking in with 61.4%, and getting off five shots compared to Vancouver's zero, the match stayed scoreless in the first 45. Victor Vazquez had a few early chances that went off-target, but an eager Kevin Cabral couldn't quite get into the mix, and Chicharito — who wasn't quite connecting with his midfield — had his only shot attempt of the first half blocked. Meanwhile, for the 'Caps, Brian White made some ambitious runs but wasn't able to get off a shot.
But it didn't talk long for things to heat up after halftime. Less than two minutes after play resumed, Sacha Kljestan and Sebastian Lletget combined on two pretty passes to get the ball just where Chicharito wanted it: meeting his far-post run for an easy, decisive finish to grab the lead.
Shortly after, intensity kicked up a notch, with Lucas Cavallini getting off the first shot of the match for the 'Caps, but Jonathan Bond was able to handle the incoming heat.
Both coaches made some tactical subs relatively early, with the Whitecaps notably getting Brazilian midfielder Caio Alexandre and Colombian forward Déiber Caicedo into the action, while the Galaxy made sure to get Alvarez and Jonathan dos Santos some minutes.
The 'Caps did create some chances to equalize, including a great 68th-minute run by Caicedo that resulted in a shot that scuffed the side netting. They also had two chances out of a 79th-minute free kick, including the initial header by Érik Godoy which glanced off the woodwork.
Then, finally, the Whitecaps equalized just over a minute into stoppage time, with Janio Bikel free to send a shot diagonally just inside the far post. But then, less than a minute later, Alvarez found the game-winner, though it didn't quite look that way right away, as Caio Alexandre nearly got a second equalizer for Vancouver at the death. But Bond made a great save and the Galaxy held tough on the subsequent, game-ending corner kick.
- 47' — LA — Javier Hernandez
- 90' + 2' — VAN — Janio Bikel
- 90' + 3' — LA — Efrain Alvarez
- THE BIG PICTURE: For the Galaxy, it looked like they were going to settle for a road draw after taking a lead into stoppage time. The extra two points they managed, by pulling out the win, may make a difference in the playoff place shuffle, which the Galaxy look more and more like they’re in. For the ‘Caps, this fifth straight loss stings in particular, as the decisive goal came so soon after they thought they ended their skid.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Take a bow, Efrain Alvarez. This was a clutch goal.