Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Whitecaps Look Lost In Space Against Galaxy

If there remained any doubt about who the Vancouver Whitecaps’ most valuable player is in 2014, tonight’s match removed it. The Caps returned to the Stubhub Center on Saturday evening without standout defensive midfielder Matias Laba, who served his one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. The difference was stunning.

Matías Laba was forced to wear his training gear, as he served a one-game suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. Sadly, the Caps didn't seem to get out of practice mode themselves, dropping a 2-0 decision to the far superior LA Galaxy. Photo courtesy of Christopher Vose at the Vancouver Herald.
Matías Laba was forced to wear his training gear as he served a one-game suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. Sadly, the Caps didn’t seem to get out of practice mode themselves, dropping a 2-0 decision to the far superior LA Galaxy. Photo of early season training at UBC courtesy of Christopher Vose at the Vancouver Herald.

Without Laba, and with Gershon Koffie still nursing an ankle injury, the Whitecaps resorted to a defensive midfield pairing of Russell Teibert and Mehdi Ballouchy. The result was an underwhelming, listless performance in a 2-0 defeat to the LA Galaxy. It was arguably Vancouver’s worst performance of the 2014 campaign.

Laba’s absence seemed to affect the Whitecaps in a way no other player’s absence has so far this year. They missed his timely interventions, and the way he so casually turns the ball up field without immediately conceding possession.

Without him, Los Angeles roamed through Vancouver’s half with impunity, the Caps utterly unable to dispossess them. Even when the ball miraculously ended up on the foot of a player in blue, the clearances were uninspring. Ballouchy and Teibert often resorted to farting the ball in the general direction of Darren Mattocks, hoping he would be able to win an aerial duel. I am unable to recall him doing so.

The highlight of the game was getting a look at both of the club’s latest acquisitions, with Kendall Waston and Mauro Rosales both making second-half appearances. Though neither was able to make a difference on the scoreboard, both showed glimpses of why Carl Robinson brought them in. Waston set up Vancouver’s best scoring chance of the night, with a nice little touch to Mattocks, while Rosales had some promising possession on the right.

The lowlight was a ridiculously bad tackle from behind late in the game by Johnny Leveron that drew a straight red. Though it certainly didn’t affect the outcome of the game, Vancouver having rolled over long since, the mistake could be exceptionally costly for Leveron, as it opens the door for Waston to start in his natural centre back position next week. It would not surprise in the least if the big Costa Rican took the spot and did not relinquish it.

Up next for the Whitecaps is a potentially Cascadia Cup-clinching derby at home against the Portland Timbers. Fans should keep their fingers crossed that the return of the young Argentine turns around the dreadful form the team was on tonight.

Manneh saves Whitecaps from pointlessness

The Vancouver Whitecaps made out like they’d been gutted by last week’s 1-nil loss at StubHub Center in Los Angeles, but let’s face it: after snatching a tie from the jaws of defeat this weekend, they were lucky to get a single point out of the possible six. A home-and-home against the most successful team in MLS history, still stacked with names like Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, is a good recipe for an oh-fer.

Storylines begged for moral victories: case in point, the Caps managed to keep Donovan off the scoresheet for two consecutive weeks, and by doing so avoided having David Ousted’s name go down in infamy as the keeper who allowed the 135th and thus record-breaking goal of the diminutive star’s storied MLS career. Largely thanks to the defensive work of Russell Tiebert in LA and Matías Laba in Vancouver, Donovan was rendered inert; the little man had a few shots from distance, but never really threatened Ousted directly.

Also in the plus column: stretches of play in the Galaxy half of the pitch. The Caps were unlucky to score when a Pedro Morales shot ricocheted toward the far corner in the first half; Jaime Penedo made a wonderful reaction save that has rightly been tapped as an MLS Save of the Week nominee. But it was the second half, with subs Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado, that saw extended forays goalward for the (mostly) young Caps squad.

Sadly, with their focus on Landovan, the blue & white were not able to shut Keane down — including the winner in LA and another at BC Place this past Saturday, the Irish forward now has goals in four straight games and “is partially made of magnesium.” (It says so on Wikipedia, so it must be true.)

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Playoff predictions – Western Conference

Fans in Vancouver are predictably blasé about the NHL playoffs; the Canucks have missed the post-season for the first time since 2008, and YVR hockey fans aren’t exactly renowned for loving the game so much as their team. (Case in point: the Abbotsford Heat are shutting up shop at the conclusion of their playoff run after years of decreasing returns in the Valley. People out thisaway are so scared of Calgary Flames cooties they’ve refused to see professional puck for $20.)

We at Pucked in the Head believe in celebrating the game, even when our local team comes up lame. Here are Jason’s picks for this year’s post-season. He’s so concussed by the ascension of Zack Kassian and the retirements of Teemu Selanne and Ryan Smythe — not to mention the bizarre first-round matchups determined by the NHL’s new wild card system — that he’s thumbing for Stanley Cup supremacy…  the San Jose Sharks (!?!?!?!)

Playoff bracket


Eastern Conferece – click here.

Continue reading Playoff predictions – Western Conference

Whitecaps gift the Goats a point

Vancouver Whitecaps FC entered Sunday afternoon with just one win in their last six games. They’d dropped from second to seventh in the Western Conference, and seen their league-leading scoring duo of Camilo and Kenny Miller suddenly go dry.

Kenny Miller steered this shot into the base of the post during the first half of a frustrating 2-2 draw against Chivas USA. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Kenny Miller steered this shot into the base of the post as Marco Delgado looked on during the first half of a frustrating 2-2 draw against Chivas USA. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

A visit from the MLS bottom dweller Chivas USA was just what the doctor ordered, then. The Caps had never lost at home to the Goats from LA, and surely they’d find their form, attack at will, and score a half dozen at least.


Uhhh, yeah. Right.

More after the jump.

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Quickies: Heavyweights En Masse, Team Can’tada & the 40-Year-Old Version

Heavyweights En Masse

The Boston Bruins are unnaturally big, led by Charzilla himself on defense. Photo ripped unceremoniously from nhl.com
The Boston Bruins are unnaturally big, led by Charzilla himself on defense. Photo ripped unceremoniously from nhl.com
The last four Stanley Cup champs are still alive in the second round. If they all move on to the final four, we hockey fans are in for a treat — all of them are heavyweights looking to regain the belt. The LA Kings (2012) & Boston Bruins (2011) are both bruisingly big, grinding forces that aim to win low-scoring games by punishing opposing blueliners and squeezing the creativity out of opposition forwards. The Chicago Blackhawks (2010) and Pittsburgh Penguins (2009) are both deep and skilled, and have scoring threats up and down their lineups. We at Pucked in the Head are cheering for the latter pair to be the last two teams standing, but frankly any matchup from these four teams will make for a damned entertaining final.

More after the break.

Continue reading Quickies: Heavyweights En Masse, Team Can’tada & the 40-Year-Old Version

EA Predicts a repeat

NHL13The frenzy that is the first round of the NHL playoffs is upon us — and if the first night is any indication, the theme is defense, defense, snore… I mean, defense. I mean, really. The last time we came out of a lockout, hockey was exciting and fast-moving. This lockout has punctuated the return of the dead puck era, where neutral zone traps and left wing locks are de rigeur. Out of six teams playing Tuesday night, only the Anaheim Ducks managed to score more than one goal in regulation time. All hail Teemu Selanne and his wrist shot of doom!

If tonight’s games between the Canucks & Sharks and the Pens and Isles end 2-1 in OT, can we just fast forward to the final and be done with it?

EA Sports has used NHL 13 to prognosticate the NHL playoff results, and they’ve come up with the New York Rangers as a surprise winner of Lord Stanley’s mug over Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks in the final. Our man Jake Hall decided to sim it up as well, and he got a decidedly different result:

by Jake Hall

For fans of the Vancouver Canucks, the “official” EA Sports sim wasn’t pretty. It involved a second round sweep at the hands of the Kings — a sweep! What is this, 2012? Needless to say, I was hoping for a different outcome when I ran the 2013 playoffs through my humble PS3 in the Hall household.

Check it out after the jump.

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Whitecaps vs. Galaxy Preview

These fans have more to cheer about than a longshot playoff game against the reigning league champs. They actually have evidence that Vancouver has some good soccer in their future. Photo stolen gratuitously from the web. Source: Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images North America

Well, it’s just about time. Tonight, at 7:30, every bloody reporter who’s ever heard of Major League Soccer can finally stop talking about how the Whitecaps ARE the first Canadian team in the MLS playoffs, and, in all likelihood, start talking about how the Whitecaps WERE the first Canadian team in the MLS playoffs. Continue reading Whitecaps vs. Galaxy Preview

Canucks discussion, part 372

Jason: I’ll be very disappointed if the Canucks can’t gut out game four, at least.

Chris: If they lose, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Craig MacTavish coaching next year.

Jason: If he can get Kesler to play to his potential, bring him on. I’m far more disappointed in Kes than I am in AV. I mean, is he still hurt? If so, he was selfish not to sit longer at the start of the year. Is he pissed at V? Then he’s being an unprofessional baby.

Continue reading Canucks discussion, part 372

2012 Playoffs – Day One – Ref You Suck! edition

Ref, You Suck!
We dedicate the Day One blog to the fine folks at Ref You Suck!

The 2012 playoffs are under way, and I’d like to congratulate officiating crews on and off the ice for kicking things off with a bang. Zebras in all three games on day one were awful, and Brendan Shanahan made complete his cold-water shrinkage from pre-season promises to trade in the NHL Wheel of Justice for consistent punishment across the league.

Before you think this is a partisan rant about the Vancouver Canucks getting jobbed of game one against the Los Angeles Kings, I’d like to proffer this: the Kings were by far the better team Wednesday night, and if not for the early heroics of Roberto Luongo, would have been in a 3-0 or 4-0 position long before calls became an issue. Also, the royal men from SoCal were flogged by a couple of questionable whistles too – I am under no delusions that Vancouver deserved that first game. Refs in Vancouver, Nashville and Pittsburgh were way too visible on the first night. Even the affable Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock commented on it during an in-game interview with Brian Engblom:

Continue reading 2012 Playoffs – Day One – Ref You Suck! edition

Playoff Predictions from Winnipeg

By Jim Chliboyko, Pucked in the Head’s official Winnipeg correspondent. Yes, he actually lives there. And yes, for our American readers, they have indoor plumbing and central heating. No, they don’t live in igloos. Well, not all of them anyway. Consider this a companion piece to our first round picks, posted yesterday.

Jim's predictions even make Henrik smile.

I’m especially well-positioned to pre-judge the 16 teams geared up for the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Playoffs. I only really paid attention to the Winnipeg Jets this year, and all the live games I managed to see this season were with teams that, consequently, missed the playoffs. Which is sort of like cheering for all the red-headed and albino kids in The Hunger Games.

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