VANCOUVER, BC. – In a roller coaster of a season, both the Vancouver Whitecaps and LA Galaxy find themselves outside the playoff picture on Decision Day 2020. Unfortunately, regardless of the outcome, both teams will go on to end their 2020 campaign that way. The two sides have split the season series 1-1 so far, with nothing more than bragging rights and three points on the line in Portland.
Vancouver Whitecaps close out 2020 with 3-0 win over LA Galaxy
Vancouver Whitecaps close out their messy 2020 campaign with their “new normal”, a 4-4-2. Head Coach Marc Dos Santos kept things standard, with only a couple changes from last week’s 1-0 loss against Portland. Captain Russel Teibert replaced Leo Owusu in the midfield, as the Ghanian faced immigration problems back in his home country.
Ali Adnan shifted up to the left wing, gifting Christian Gutierrez his place at left back. A game every 4.25 days for Vancouver over the last 51 (since they left for Real Salt Lake at the start of this phase) means heavy squad rotation. However in the last game before an important off season for Dos Santos, he put out arguably his best 11.
Meanwhile LA and Dominic Kinnear put out a similar looking 4-2-3-1 to that of their mid-week 1-1 tie to Seattle. Only a pair of changes for the Galaxy, with Sebastian Lletget making way for Joe Corona, and then Sacha Kljestan being replaced by Efrain Alvarez in this one. Similarly to Dos Santos, Kinnear has a large off season ahead of him, and the squad could look very different at the start of next year.
Defend from the front
Jumping out of the gates (by their standards), Vancouver had a lively looking attack in the first half. A number of chances early on from the “home” side (last time this season I get to make that joke, sigh), but eventually their high press and relentless attack paid off after 24 minutes. Teibert took the ball 30 yards through the middle of the field before laying it off out wide to Gutierrez. The Canadian left back crossed the ball into a leaping Lucas Cavallini, who headed home his team leading sixth of the year.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Californians, as Julian Araujo went studs up into the leg of Gutierrez just outside the Galaxy’s penalty area. Despite being called just a yellow at first, a VAR review overturned that decision and resulted in a straight red for Araujo. Three of Vancouver’s eight wins so far were against 10 men, and the first half red card was a push in the direction of #4.
It would help that Fredy Montero made LA pay just two minutes later, as he doubled Vancouver’s lead to two. A strong run by Gutierrez again played it right into the six yard box. Cavallini and Montero were both there, but it was the Columbian who guided it hime off of his chest. Montero, who’s future with the club is up in the air, impressing his manager once more with his fourth of the year.
Seeing it home (ish)
I know I said the “Vancouver’s home in Portland” jokes were done. I lied.
LA were down a man and their season was dwindling away. They strutted out for the second half and seemed much more together and organized than the first 45. And it showed. A number of chances, including a Chicharito free kick and a Kljestan chance tipped onto the bar by Evan Bush, but no dice.
One late Fredy Montero strike from the inside the box was the final nail in the Galaxy’s mess of a season. Montero nabbed his fifth of the year , and cemented Vancouver’s ninth win. Impressive showings in the middle of the park from Teibert and Janio Bikel drove the Whitecaps over the line, to finish off an up and down campaign with a win.
For Kinnear’s men, they avoided a loss in their last two, but there was nowhere to hide on Sunday night. A large offseason lays ahead for LA, with a number of area’s that need addressing. The Galaxy flew home the night after the game, however the Whitecaps have one last night before they pack their suitcases for north of the 49. Montero, with a pair of goals, won Man of the Match, in one final showing of a revamped second half of the year.