Saturday, March 1, Los Angeles Galaxy opened its 2020 season at Dignity Health Sports Park. The party was spoiled by a visiting Vancouver Whitecaps FC squad that left with three points following forward Tosaint Ricketts’ 74th-minute winner.
Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham saved a penalty kick late in the game to keep the hosts in the game but the attack was unable to get anything past Bingham’s counterpart Maxime Crepeau. A quad strain to Jonathan dos Santos forced manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto to shift his lineup at halftime — replacing the Mexican international with Perry Kitchen.
Attacking Trio Blanked
The attacking trio of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Aleksandar Katai and Cristian Pavon was out-hustled by the Whitecaps defense to earn the clean sheet. Vancouver’s 11 interceptions and 15 tackles proved the decider in a game settled in the trenches. Schelotto’s side had a respectable 12 tackles but managed just one interception.
The best chance of the match for the Galaxy came early. In the eighth minute, Katai’s header from left-back Emiliano Insua’s cross went just wide of the post. Various half-chances produced just one shot on target for the hosts. In the 24th minute, midfielder Sacha Kljestan was next to come close. His attempt from 30 yards following a miscommunication from the Vancouver defense that left Crepeau scrambling out of his box was three yards off target. Two minutes later, center back Andy Rose’s flicked header bounced off the top of the bar for Vancouver’s best opportunity.
Like last week against Houston, LA Galaxy did well to get Insua in attacking positions to send crosses in the box. Only this time, Vancouver did well to stuff the crossing lanes which saw Chicharito, Katai, and Pavon struggle to connect.
Vancouver’s Smothering Back Line
Right-back Janio Bikel did well to keep Pavon quiet. Rose and center back partner Jasir Khimir did well to muscle up Hernandez and keep him without a shot on target for a second consecutive game. Ali Adnan struggled against Katai on the left side but the Serbian was unable to finish during his 60 minutes on the pitch. Substitute Sebastian Lletget also found it difficult after replacing Katai at right-wing.
Vancouver’s hard work defensively would eventually be rewarded in attack when Ricketts deflected Adnan’s cross past Bingham and into the side net. Slightly against the run of play, the Whitecaps managed to flood the left side and get Adnan in possession inside the box. His tip past Galaxy center back Nicholas DePuy left him open to cross the ball back towards the top of the box where Ricketts used the power of the pass to guide it into the goal.
Corona Sees Red
Things got worse for the hosts five minutes later. After taking a yellow card earlier in the match, Corona’s stamp on Vancouver’s Russell Teibert earned him a second caution and a red card — forcing the Galaxy to finish the game with ten men.
The goal never came for Galaxy but the Dignity Health Sports Park faithful were given something to cheer about when Bingham managed to get a foot on forward Lucas Cavallini’s penalty shot in the 89th minute.
Schelotto Disappointed, Chicharito Disappointing
Post-game, Schelotto said he was disappointed with the result and that “We deserved to lose.”
The Argentine added: “But sometimes in soccer, it’s not about who deserves to win, it’s about who scores. They only had one shot and they scored with the first shot they had. We had shots in the first half especially but we couldn’t.”
When asked about the newest Designated Player Chicharito failing to get on the score sheet again Schelotto said that he and his staff expect him to score “in the next game.”
“I am more worried about the result tonight than if Chicharito scores or not,” Schelotto said. “We can put the ball in the box a lot of times but we couldn’t find him, we’ll try in the next game.”
Schelotto is doing his job to downplay the situation of his scoreless DP, but getting that first goal off your back is crucial to getting the flow going for any center forward who feeds from scoring. The longer the drought goes, the more negative attention he, and the team, will receive.
Top Photo: Brayan Altamirano