Robbie Keane scored a world-class goal on his return from Euro 2016 and Nigel de Jong was sent off for an ugly tackle on Blas Perez as LA Galaxy (6W-3L-8D) defeated Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-8L-3D) 2-0 in an Independence Day clash on Monday night at the StubHub Center.
The ‘Caps outshot LA 26-9, but fell victim to goals from Keane and Jeff Larentowicz and a pair of assists from former longtime Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.
LA are now unbeaten in nine home matches to start the season.
One of the big questions heading into Monday’s match was: how would Vancouver respond after last week’s Canadian Championship heartbreak?
Performance wise, the response was certainly there from the opening whistle.
Striker Erik Hurtado and midfielder Nicolas Mezquida, who was playing behind Hurtado in a 4-4-1-1 formation, both caused problems early. In the sixth minute, they nearly got on the end of an inviting Jordan Harvey cross from the left. And just a few minutes later, they chased down Galaxy centre back Leonardo and goalkeeper Brian Rowe, who saw his last-ditch clearance blocked by Mezquida before trickling a few yards wide of goal.
It was an encouraging start from the visitors, but it was undone in the 12th minute.
LA didn’t really have a sniff until then, but they don’t need many opportunities. Gerrard picked out Keane, who created some space for himself at the top of the arc, and the Irish international took care of the rest, curling a lovely strike into the top right corner.
Just like that, it was 1-0 LA.
The ‘Caps ended the half on the front foot, but LA’s moment of magic proved the difference. And they added to their lead early in the second half, with Larentowicz heading in a Gerrard corner.
LA gave Vancouver a lifeline in the 74th minute, when de Jong was shown red.
It was all Whitecaps FC from that point forward. Pedro Morales and Andrew Jacobson forced Rowe into a pair of diving saves and the ‘Caps launched countless crosses into the box, but simply couldn’t find the end product. LA concluded the match with a whopping 45 clearances, compared to Vancouver’s 12, which says a lot about how the match went. It was just one of those nights.
Whitecaps FC now return to BC Place for four straight home matches, including the friendly vs. English Premier League side Crystal Palace FC, starting against league-leading Colorado Rapids.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Tim Parker
Referee: Robert Sibiga
12′ – LA – Robbie Keane (Steven Gerrard)
47′ – LA – Jeff Larentowicz (Steven Gerrard)
Possession: LA 50% – Vancouver 50%
Shots: LA 9 – Vancouver 26
Shots on Goal: LA 5 – Vancouver 4
Saves: LA 4 – Vancouver 3
Fouls: LA 9 – Vancouver 8
Offsides: LA 0 – Vancouver 4
Corners: LA 3 – Vancouver 12
67′ – VAN – Matias Laba
74′ – LA – Nigel de Jong
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 6.Jordan Smith, 4.Kendall Waston, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 17.Andrew Jacobson, 15.Matías Laba (38.Kianz Froese 81′); 7.Christian Bolaños, 77.Pedro Morales ©, 11.Nicolás Mezquida (27.Blas Pérez 67′); 19.Erik Hurtado (13.Cristian Techera 71′)
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 14.Cole Seiler, 30.Ben McKendry
12.Brian Rowe; 20.AJ DeLaGarza, 44.Daniel Steres, 22.Leonardo, 27.Dave Romney; 34.Nigel de Jong, 21.Jeff Larentowicz; 10.Giovani dos Santos (18.Mike Magee 90′ + 4′), 8.Steven Gerrard (9.Alan Gordon 85′), 11.Gyasi Zardes; 7.Robbie Keane ©
Substitutes not used
1.Dan Kennedy, 6.Baggio Husidic, 17.Sebastian Lletget, 24.Emmanuel Boateng, 25.Rafael Garcia