Whitecaps Suffer Painful 4-0 Defeat at Empire Fields to the Galaxy

July 31, 2011

Vancouver, BC -- The Vancouver Whitecaps are learning the harsh realities of an expansion team playing in Major League Soccer. Yesterday at the Empire Fields, in front of a sellout crowd of 27,500 fans, Vancouver dominated the run of play for 60 minutes, but failed to take their chances when they had them.

The Caps, like the Galaxy, started with a 4-4-2 formation, with Gershon Koffie in front of the back four and Davide Chiumiento playing in the hole, just behind strikers Eric Hassli and Mustapha Jarju.

Coach Tom Soehn had the Brazilian Camilo and Salinas attacking from the wings in this formation.

Mustapha -- the Caps new acquisition from the Belgian league -- played as if he needed more time to find his game. The Caps failed to find the target on at least half a dozen times before the 25th minute mark. Hassli was marked very closely, there was no opening through the middle, and the expected threat from the wings never materialized. However, the Caps still created chances that went begging in front of the Galaxy goal.

The Galaxy was lucky to go to the dressing room with a clean slate, and the Caps regretted this later. Vancouver 'keeper Joe Cannon also made some excellent saves to keep a clean slate in the first half.

The Caps started the second half pressing for the opening, and almost got it when winger Shea Salinas struck the inside of the upright with the keeper clearly beaten. The ball rebounded into play, and ended up being just one more missed opportunity for the Caps.

In the 61st minute, Caps center back Michael Boxall stumbled and fell, leaving Landon Donovan one-on-one with Cannon, and he immediately converted to put the visitors ahead. Coach Soehn later said of the play, “That’s the difference of why they’re in first and we’re not.”

In the 75th minute, the Caps conceded a penalty when a long ball from Todd Donivant struck Caps fullback Jordan Harvey’s outstretched arm. Landon Donovan converted the penalty kick for the visitors’ second goal. At this point, the Whitecaps nemesis for the day, Donovan, was in an unstoppable groove.

In the 80th minute, Landon Donovan again broke loose on the left flank, making use of space allowed him by the Caps defense to feed a beautiful cross for Franklin to tap-in for a 3-0 Galaxy lead. For the first time in their inaugural MLS campaign, the Vancouver side was looking and playing like an expansion team.

The Caps current state of play was perhaps best summed up by center-back Alain Rochat when he said, "I don’t think we believe we can do something. This is the biggest problem. If it’s L.A. or whoever, we have to, and we don’t. The fans are fantastic but we need to give something back. We need to thank them with wins."

Rochat and the Vancouver brass have nothing to worry about with regard to the Whitecaps fans. The sellout crowd, the biggest of the season, was a testament to the city’s love affair with the Caps. Maybe we should all lower our expectations for the Whitecaps this year, and enjoy the beautiful game.

Scoring Summary  
LA -- Landon Donovan 10 (Sean Franklin 1) 61  
LA -- Landon Donovan 11 (penalty kick) 75  
LA -- Sean Franklin 2 (Landon Donovan 2) 80  
LA -- Adam Cristman 1 (unassisted) 90  

WHITECAPS (4-4-2) Cannon; Harvey, Rochat, Boxall, Leathers (Vagenas 73’); Camillo, Koffie, Chiumiento (Nanchoff 81’), Salinas; Hassli, Jarju (Khalifan 62’).

GALAXY (4-4-2) Saunders; Dunivant, Berhalter, Gonzalez, DeLaGarza; Franklin, Donovan (Lopez 85’), Juninho, Stephens (Kear 85’); Angel (Cristman 85’), Magee.

By Kwenu Turkson
Contributing Writer for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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