The Top 5 of 2015 – The Galaxy Over

Whitecaps Wednesday

After getting entries four and five out of the way, we’ve officially reached the podium positions in our Top 5 of 2015 game review series. It only seems fitting as anticipation for the 2016 season mounts with the Caps having arrived back in town for training camp. And what better way to celebrate than by sitting down with a frosty brew (might I suggest a Four Winds Pale Ale?*), taking a load off and wasting some time reading Pucked in the Head while those players bust their asses running laps and submitting themselves to arduous fitness testing? In case you need some more time to finish your drink, catch up on our previous installments – you can find entry 5 here, and entry 4 here.

Now, without further ado, in the Bronze medal spot we take a peek back to the happenings at BC place on April 4, 2015 – just the fifth game of the young season for the Whitecaps. The match was a significant one for the team because of the opponent, because of the result and because of the method in which they delivered that result.

Entry #3 on the Top 5 of 2015:

April 4, 2015 – BC Place Stadium, Vancouver
Whitecaps FC: 2 – Los Angeles Galaxy: 0

Matías Laba blocks a clearing attempt during a 2-2 draw between the Whitecaps and LA Galaxy. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Matías Laba blocks a clearing attempt during MLS regular season play between the Whitecaps and LA Galaxy. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The What:

The Whitecaps came into the game riding a wave of confidence and a three-game winning streak after a disappointing loss to Toronto to open the season. The opening 45 would end up scoreless, but if you believe in such a thing as a “moral victory,” chalk up the ol’ W in the Whitecaps column. They controlled the play from the outset and held a large territorial advantage. Defensively, the Caps repeatedly interrupted any Galaxy forward foray while exploring every inch of their own attacking third.

A tactical change by the Galaxy at halftime allowed the Whitecaps to find a breakthrough. As L.A. began pushing more bodies forward, they left themselves susceptible to what we would come to recognize throughout the season as a potent Whitecap counterattack. After a Galaxy turnover just outside the Vancouver 18, Russell Teibert found Pedro Morales at midfield, who, after sucking in three Galaxy defenders like a black hole, found a streaking Kekuta Manneh down the left wing. Manneh would make no mistake on the play, finishing coolly to stake the Caps to a 1-0 lead.

Rivero would add the insurance goal just ten minutes later after a heady play by Nicolas Mezquida.  Rivero walked the ball to the Galaxy byline before trying to cut across the face of goal. After meeting some resistance from L.A. defenders, he left the ball for an oncoming Mezquida who promptly fired the ball with pace at the Galaxy keeper from a sharp angle. The rebound wound up on Rivero’s feet before ending its travels in the back of the net.

Canadian product Russell Tiebert (left) scored the first two goals of his promising MLS career, as the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated the LA Galaxy 3-1 on May 11. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Canadian product Russell Tiebert put in a strong performance for the Vancouver Whitecaps against the LA Galaxy.. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Who:

Kekuta Manneh, who opened the scoring, makes another appearance on the list. After an exceptional against-the-grain through ball from Pedro Morales sent him in 1 v 1 against Tommy Meyer, Kekuta twisted the defender like a turbine before delivering a worm-burner into the bottom corner of the net.

Octavio Rivero added his fourth goal in five games just ten minutes after Kekuta’s opener. After missing a couple of sitters in the opening game, he had been scoring at will and looked to be a shoe-in for the Golden Boot. Err, not quite.

On the defensive side of the ball, Matias Laba, Russell Teibert and Nicolas Mezquida, who was named the Man of the Match, all had exceptional efforts, allowing the Whitecaps to dominate possession and dictate play. It was uncharted territory for the Caps versus the Galaxy as they limited the visitors to just a single shot on net…if you want to actually call that plodding turf-ridden header a shot.

Gyasi Zardes of the LA Galaxy crosses the ball during MLS action at BC Place.
Gyasi Zardes was one of the few LA Galaxy players to have forward touches on the ball in a 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Why:

In what was possibly the Whitecaps most complete game of the season, they managed to shake a couple of monkeys off their proverbial back. In amassing just their second ever win against the Galaxy, they also managed their first (and still only) four-game win streak in MLS. The victory also represented the team’s inaugural clean sheet versus the then-defending MLS Cup Champions from L.A.

Although early in the season, this game was somewhat of a statement for the squad. It was a pretty win, and it was a pretty win against a tough opponent. Granted the Galaxy came out of the gates struggling and entered the game with just a single win in their first four games of 2015, but this was a team that historically had dismantled the Whitecaps with regularity and relative ease. The triumph lifted the Whitecaps to the top of the table and solidified the notion that this team was more contender than pretender. Refresh your memory courtesy of the highlight pack below:

*I’ve tried this plugging beer products thing before without success. (I’m looking at YOU other beer company that I will no longer name on this blog! I’m just kidding, it was Townsite Brewing.) But hey, any reps from Four Winds want to get in touch for a little “promotional initiative,” please, don’t hesitate.