Galaxy “mature” in win with a 5-2 score line against Vancouver

Los Angeles Galaxy "mature" in win at Dignity Health Sports Park

A four-goal first-half fiesta took the Los Angeles Galaxy back above the playoff line as they overwhelmed the Vancouver Whitecaps 5-2 Saturday night at home. The win came as the Galaxy “mature” in win against the Whitecaps.

It was the first time the Galaxy scored five goals since the Bruce Arena days in 2016, but four different goalscorers bulged the net for LA in the season’s highest-scoring game. It was also arguably the Galaxy’s most complete performance in a half in a good rebound from their previous defeat.

Galaxy “mature” in win against Vancouver 5-2

Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney certainly thought it was up there. 

“Yeah. Solid. Mature. Controlled. I thought it was good,” the second-year coach said of the opening half.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernández scored a cheeky panenka penalty, Víctor Vázquez returned to the starting 11 with a long-range goal, and Samuel Grandsir scored a brace punctuated by a gorgeous curling effort to effectively decide the game by the opening 45 minutes.

Even though Galaxy winger Kévin Cabral didn’t get on the scoresheet, he was at the heart of everything good early. His impact was massive in the opening half and deserved more than just one assist. Time and again, he was able to exploit the space left by Vancouver’s defense to get in behind the lines with his pace. Vancouver Goalkeeper Cody Cropper did well to claw out a Cabral header in eight minutes, but he could do nothing about the opening goal.

Cabral the catalyst

Cabral would receive a Julián Araujo pass down the right wing after a defensive mistake by Vancouver. Having time and space, he was able to pick out a streaking Grandsir at the back post, and Grandsir would blast his shot into the ceiling of the net for the 1-0 lead on 12 minutes.

Cabral was at it again on the second goal. His pass to Grandsir was the catalyst for Grandsir to earn the penalty after sending a cross into the box that Vancouver handled. Chicharito would dispatch the penalty in cheeky panenka fashion for the 2-0 lead and his 10th goal of the year within 20 minutes.

Ten minutes later, Cabral’s ability to draw his defender out wide, opened space for Chicharito to play a quick one-two pass with Vázquez. The Spaniard took a touch before curling his right-footed shot into the bottom far corner of the goal for the 3-0 lead. 

He spoke about how special it was to score his first goal of the season in front of his son visiting from Barcelona.

“Yeah, for me, you know, this is the first time to have my son here. I’m so proud. Also, [he brought me luck]. The first time he’s here, I scored my first goal of the season,” Vázquez confessed.

Call and response

A defensive lapse by the Galaxy, on 38 minutes, brought the Whitecaps back into the game. 

Cropper earned himself a goalkeeper’s assist when he played a long pass over the top of the Galaxy defense to Ryan Gauld. Gauld beat Araujo for pace and struck his shot from just outside the 18-yard-box to make it 3-1.

The Galaxy responded in perfect fashion, however.

Araujo collected a long pass from Mark Delgado on the right wing. His cross-field pass found Grandsir at the top of the box, where the winger took a touch to collect himself before unleashing a sumptuous curling effort that just kissed the inside of the post for his second goal of the game and to restore the three-goal lead to 4-1 where the half would end.

“Sam has been putting in good shifts. And, I think as he continues to mature, and his game is maturing, he’s having less of the emotional breaks and little things in the game, and he stays connected. He’s a good player,” Vanney said of the Grandsir’s two-goal first half.

Vancouver would strike first in the second on 70 minutes. After beating Araujo, Cristian Dajome got to the finish line, where his cutback pass to Toisant Ricketts, was placed in at the near post to make the score 4-2.

10-man Vancouver

Dajome would end any Vancouver comeback himself, though. His clumsy challenge on Araujo in the 79th minute earned him a second yellow and left Vancouver with 10 men.

Substitutes Dejan Joveljić and Álvarez would exploit the man advantage by connecting in the 89th minute. Joveljić picked up a long Daniel Aguirre pass on the left wing and beat his man to the end line. The Serbian super-sub squared the ball back to Álvarez, for him to lift the ball over Cropper to complete the 5-2 rout for the Galaxy.

A big night in LA as the Galaxy “mature” in win at Dignity Health Sports Park

Several Galaxy players had big nights, and with their recent form (six losses in the last eight), it was a much-needed lift for the locker room and fans. 

“A lot of things that we’ve done well in spurts during the season, but I thought we did well for larger stretches of the game tonight, which is key. You can’t just do it for five here or five there. Today we put it together. And we took our chances. Which got us on top of the game, which has been a positive formula for us when we get the first goal, then we tend to roll a little bit better.”

Vanney is right, of course. The Galaxy is 9-1-1 when scoring the first goal in league play this season. At home, they only lost once when scoring the first goal.

Can the Galaxy “put it together” again?

The challenge for Los Angeles will now be “putting it together” for the rest of the season. And Vázquez knows every game counts. Although Saturday’s victory took them back above the playoff line again, the Western Conference is tightly packed, with fourth through eleventh place separated by just five points.

“All the guys were working really hard. We knew that it is 11 games, that it was 11 games left to go, and we have to win at home because we were conceding many goals at home, we were losing many games at home. And today, we showed that we are there, that we are a great team. We are a good team, but we have to start the games this way, aggressive with confidence and trusting each other,” Vázquez shared.

The team could get another lift when they face Seattle at home next Friday. 

New signing Riqui Puig is expected to make his debut in a tantalizing match against the Concacaf Champions League winners that could have massive repercussions on the playoff race.

Photo Credit: Marco Delgado on August 14, 2022.