Pa Madou Kah scored his third goal in two games, and played solid defense besides. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Top 5 of 2015 – Escape From L.A.

Whitecaps Wednesday

With lots of Whitecaps rumours and news this week surrounding the acquisition of Blas Pérez and departure of Mauro Rosales, I briefly considered suspending the Top 5 of 2015 series for one week. But then my pal and yours, Jason, tossed up his own review of said happenings and generously added in my own take as a footnote to boot. Perfect. Perhaps, at a later date, I will expunge my feelings on that subject further, but for now, let us forge ahead with the Top 5 countdown and review the Silver medal match of 2015.

Entries five, four and three were certainly delicious, but the top two spots are rich in nutritional value and high in fibre while being even scrummier and more fulfilling than the previous three. On June 6, 2015, the Whitecaps sailed into the most hostile of territories and managed to achieve a remarkable feat on both a micro and macro level.

Entry #2 on the Top 5 of 2015:

June 6, 2015 – StubHub Center, Los Angeles
Whitecaps FC: 1 – Los Angeles Galaxy: 0

Kekuta Manneh was kept remarkably quiet during a 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Kekuta Manneh was more than happy to take on the LA Galaxy in 2015 after scoring two goals in two games against the Californians. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The What:

Vancouver had just started their lengthy summer road trip on account of the Women’s World Cup taking over BC Place. Things didn’t look good as they travelled to SoCal. The boys in blue were mired in their worst stretch of games to date in the season, having dropped three of their last four games, including game one of the five-game trip to the lowly Montreal Impact. Historically, the StubHub Center had not been kind to Vancouver, either. And so it was, the Caps solemnly declared their 0-7-0 record versus the Galaxy at the venue to customs officials.

While the Galaxy managed the majority of possession, it was what would come to be a typical Whitecaps away performance that would allow the visitors to eke out a win. Steady defending limited the Galaxy to just a couple of chances, neither of which really threatened David Ousted, despite LA controlling the ball for large stretches in the Whitecaps end. Meanwhile, a potent counterattack generated numerous opportunities for the Caps, resulting in the only tally of the game.

Kekuta Manneh started and finished the play that ultimately finished the Galaxy. After intercepting a pass in his own half, he laid off to Octavio Rivero before taking off down the left wing. Rivero did well to find Manneh inbehind the Galaxy midfield, leaving him 1-v-1 against centreback Omar Gonzalez. The Gambian striker cut into the middle of the field and opened up enough space to whip a low shot to the right of LA keeper Brian Rowe and into the back of the net.  Vancouver would keep the Galaxy off the scoresheet the rest of the way and escape from LA with a 1-0 win.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Man of the Match David Ousted. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
David Ousted earned his seventh clean sheet of the season versus the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 6, 2015. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Who:

Manneh, who has featured prominently in the Top 5 series, once again takes top billing. The marker was both his second against the Galaxy and his second of the season at the time, and strangely both goals are virtual carbon copies of one another. Check the highlights from last week’s entry and compare to this week’s, below, for proof.

Rivero put in a strong effort despite missing a gift in the second half. He broke in with Pedro Morales on a 2-on-1, and chose to pass across the face of goal instead taking the chance himself. It wasn’t necessarily the wrong decision, but when Morales’ shot hit the post, Rivero found himself with a wide open net. He stuttered briefly, trying to take a touch on the ball, but wound up giving just enough time for a Galaxy defender to get his foot on the ball. Change negated. Regardless, Rivero was a threat moving forward and played through a couple of nice balls, including the one that set up Manneh’s game-winner.

Once again, Kendall Waston anchored a stingy Caps defense that seemed content allowing LA to move the ball around the perimeter of the 18. Any attempts to move the ball inside the box were summarily shut down. His partner, Pa Modou-Kah, was also a rock on the backline, pairing well with the big man to head way any (and every) potential aerial threat from the Galaxy.

Coach Carl Robinson of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Coach Carl Robinson seems to have found the cure for whatever has ailed his team in the past when facing the LA Galaxy. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Why:

For the second week in a row, I’m featuring a victory over the (then) defending MLS Champion Los Angeles Galaxy. And while the previous victory was an important one for the Whitecaps, this win accomplished a number of things for the squad. Chiefly, it snapped the Galaxy’s remarkable 29-game unbeaten streak at StubHub Center. You could argue that the Caps provided proof that the Galaxy could — nay, should — be beaten (preferably about the face and neck with something wet and noodly, but on a sports ticker will do).

As I mentioned earlier, it was also the first win for the Whitecaps against LA in the City of Angels, simultaneously marking their first season sweep against the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Galaxy. The two teams were tied in points entering the game, so the occasion provided Whitecaps observers to measure the resolve of the team: a resolve which some had scrutinized in years past due to a history of dropping games at crucial junctures in the season.

The win also turned around the Caps short-term fortunes; as mentioned, they had been struggling coming into the match. Vancouver would go on to win successive road games against some stiff competition in the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution, lifting the team to a very respectable 3-1-1 record on five-week trip.

Relive all the action through the highlight pack below and remember, if you’re so inclined, to review last week’s highlights and bear witness to Manneh’s goal clones.