The LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps match set to take place on Saturday, March 18, at Dignity Health Sports Park might be the second-most interesting thing happening there that day. Although the Galaxy is set to play their 2023 MLS home opener finally, they might do so once again in an empty stadium. During preseason a supporter protest, now going on three months, was influential in making sure Galaxy home games were poorly attended.
But now, it’s for reals. Just like LA will try to get their first win after a scoreless draw away against Sporting KC, supporters will try to make sure their protest is being felt by the Galaxy front office. A protest planned at the stadium before the match is sure riveting. It will, however, be a far cry from the normally festive atmosphere on opening day. Throw in a Vancouver team that is also looking for its first win, and it is certain to be a memorable day in Los Angeles.
LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Predictions
Our LA. Our Galaxy. Our season.
Here come the G's, @MLS. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/uANNe9oG8t
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) March 15, 2023
LA Galaxy’s Current Run of Form
Uninspiring is the most diplomatic term thrown around for the Galaxy’s performances so far this season. They started well on opening day with Dejan Joveljić scoring an early goal but ended up losing 3-1 against FC Dallas. The defense was pulled apart time and again and didn’t give the team a chance to win. After conceding three goals in 20 minutes, they never recovered in Texas.
After finally giving Center Back Jalen Neal his first MLS start, Galaxy’s Head Coach was rewarded was a much sounder defensive performance vs. Sporting KC. In their second-straight road match, the Galaxy was able to record a clean sheet in a place they usually have trouble. They weathered the storm of 30 shots to escape with their first point of the season. Neal had five blocks and Goalkeeper Jonathan Bond had 11 saves, one off his personal best. But as good as the defense was on the day, that’s how ineffectual the Galaxy attack was.
Knowing Is Not Doing
Vanney knows the main problem is a lack of width. “I think we missed a little bit of the speed and the stretch and the players who put the back line on notice because if they get tight or get high, you’re going to go in behind them. And that softens things up for our midfield to be able to play as well,” the Galaxy coach said postgame against SKC.
Vanney being able to do anything about it is another thing altogether. And the one who suffers is Joveljić. The lack of service from players like Riqui Puig is such that the Serbian drifts further and further away from the goal in search of the ball. This is why after 67 minutes and no touches in the opposing box, Vanney was forced to withdraw him. Vanney admitted as much:
“With the group that we have that’s kind of fit and ready and healthy, we lack a little bit of that. And the guy who suffers the most sometimes is the striker because you don’t have players who are getting in behind and moving center backs… So it’s sometimes hard to get into the striker in those situations.”
Hard or not, width or not, Joveljić must score at home if the Galaxy is to have success on opening day.
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Vancouver’s Current Run of Form
Like Los Angeles, Vancouver is still looking for their first win of the season. And like Los Angeles, they’ve blown a lead and lost a winnable game. Unlike LA, they’ve done it twice.
They looked to be in control in both matches with Julian Gressel serving up assists in consecutive games, only to throw it away against RSL at home and then San Jose away. Then came the 5-0 goal explosion against Real España in the Concacaf Champions League. It was a victory that should’ve gotten Vancouver back on track. Instead, the Whitecaps went home and dropped more points in a 1-1 tie against FCD.
Vancouver Coach Vanni Sartini rested key players like Gressel, Pedro Vite, and Ryan Gauld for the CCL second leg Wednesday night, so they should be ready to trouble LA on Saturday.
The last time these two teams met on September 14, 2022, the Whitecaps melted the Galaxy in a 3-0 home victory. Gauld and Vite were among the goal scorers that day as LA surrendered three goals in 30 minutes. Gauld also had a goal the month before in a 5-2 Whitecaps loss in Los Angeles in August. While the games before that fall into a familiar pattern of the teams alternating wins.
LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps Prediction
With this being the home opener, emotions will be high on and off the pitch. How much will off-field factors affect the Galaxy is anyone’s guess. LA will want to win and put on a good show for the fans that are in attendance. A victory will go a long will toward assuaging some sections of the support. A victory and being on the scoresheet will also assuage the Dejan doubters.
Look for Joveljić to give the Galaxy a storybook Hollywood ending on opening day in Los Angeles. The Serbian striker will score the goal that gives the LA a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday when they play at 7:30 p.m.