The Galaxy defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0 in the team’s first ever MLS appearance in Vancouver. The game was scoreless for the first 60 minutes when Landon Donovan took over the game, scoring two goals and adding an assist.
The Galaxy spent the first 35 minutes of the game bunkered in their own half. They had a very difficult time stringing together any passes, and let Vancouver get deep into the half. Juan Pablo Angel and Mike Magee were hardly ever on the ball. Davide Chiumiento had a very entertaining first half for the Whitecaps. The Swiss midfielder was integral in all of the Whitecaps attacks and almost set up goals on a couple of occasions. However, Josh Saunders was equal to all tasks that were asked of him.
Landon Donovan scored the first goal of the night on a nice diagonal ball from Sean Franklin. Vancouver defender Mike Boxall slipped on the play, which allowed Donovan to go in on goal himself. However, he would not have been able to without the sublime trap with his chest that knocked the ball straight into his stride, and then a confident left footed volley left Joe Cannon with no chance.
Donovan added his second goal from the penalty spot after Vancouver defender Jordan Harvey tried to bring the ball down in his own box, but used his arm. The play was totally unnecessary as Harvey was not under much pressure, however he did bring it down with his arm allowing Donovan to tie for the league lead in goals with 11.
Donovan wasn’t done, Todd Dunivant played Landon over the top of the defense, which allowed Donovan to dribble at the six yard box from the left. Donovan picked out Sean Franklin, who knocked the ball in the goal for his second career MLS goal a week after his first. Donovan’s torrid second half came after Bruce Arena moved the US international from left midfield to forward.
The fourth goal came after substitute Adam Cristman posted up his defender in the box. The ball bounced up into the air and Cristman looped a header over Joe Cannon’s head. Cristman would seem to be in line to get more time. Juan Pablo Angel was practically invisible in his 67 minutes on the field. Cristman is a tall, physical forward who could benefit from the Galaxy’s style of play. The team prefers to knock the ball to the wings and send crosses into the middle, but without a forward who capitalizes on those chances the Galaxy have has trouble scoring at times this season. The departure of Edson Buddle in the offseason is what has hurt the Galaxy most in this regard, but Cristman might be able to provide some help.
The return of Omar Gonzalez meant the Galaxy had five starting defenders healthy. This allowed Arena to move A.J. De la Garza to the outside back position, and push All-Star Sean Franklin into the midfield. Franklin set up and scored a goal while providing a great work rate at right midfield.
Daniel Keat made his MLS debut for the Galaxy. Keat is a rookie midfielder from Dartmouth University. He made his first appearance on Sunday in a friendly against Manchester City. Keat looked very good in that game, helping set up the Galaxy’s goal. Which no doubt helped Bruce Arena’s confidence in the New Zealand international and led to his MLS debut. Oftentimes, it is difficult for MLS teams to compete in the friendlies with premier European clubs but the Galaxy were able to get some of their younger players who don’t normally play an opportunity and they still walked away with a result.
The Galaxy played without David Beckham who missed the game due to yellow card accumulation. Chris Birchall was also serving the last game of his suspension for a dangerous tackle. Both players should be available for the Galaxy’s next game.
Next: Wednesday 8/3 @ Portland