Sunday, April 2, 2017

Vancouver Whitecaps 4-2 Los Angeles Galaxy: When a Party Breaks Out at a Funeral

Just takes a little levity.
My big take-away from their 4-2 comeback win is that the Vancouver Whitecaps can be good. It also makes some commentary on the Los Angeles Galaxy, not much of it positive, either. As their season goes forward, just…consider the possibility that Curt Onalfo picked up the band hand that Bruce Arena laid down when he walked away to the U.S. Men’s National Team.

The more interesting thing about this game is how represents a study in belief. I mean that on two levels too, as in belief within the team and belief among the fans. When LA scored two in the first half’s middle passage and took the lead, BC Place took on that funereal “glow” familiar to fans of all struggling teams; it’s that awful thought, “shit, here we go again.” A taste of bitterness would have piled on to that sentiment of dread this time around, thanks to the ref (badly) missing a clear penalty kick call when Jelle Van Damme dropped the incredibly-fun-to-watch Alphono Davies almost immediately after the ‘Caps went up (uh, there's no video for this, why?).

Even if they looked snake-bit late in the first half, Vancouver turned it all around, leaving LA with bigger questions, and of the wrong kind.

Vancouver Whitecaps
- I’ll get to the big stuff later, but there was this moment around the 39th that I just want to flag. Cristian Bolanos almost fed Davies, and if they can get to where Davies looks for that kind of pass, they’ll have something. Something....deadly.
- The kind of thing that will hurt them? Erik Hurtado deciding to try to chip the ‘keeper from midfield…only to have even the attempt fall short. Know yer limits, kid, and find Christian Techera next time…
- Not least because LA lost Techera again and again and again. This killed ‘em on the equalizer (so much space; is it his height?), but the ‘Caps found a lot of ways to run through LA’s lines, none of them more than Techera.
- Except for the first,Vancouver’s goals all came after some substitutions – e.g. Fredy Montero for Hurtado and Tony Tchani for Andrew Jacobson. I have two contrasting reads on that: first, while Montero might not be the solution, he’s an upgrade over Hurtado; more crucially, Montero could allow Vancouver to play tighter in the attack – e.g., to allow more of what I talked about up top with Bolanos and Davies. Hurtado is a late-game sub, not a starter.
- Second, I don’t think Tchani improved on Jacobson, so I’m less inclined to read anything into that, but that’s at the heart of a big question for Craig Robinson: who does he start between Tchani, Jacobson and yesterday’s brace-grabbing hero, Matias Laba?

Los Angeles Galaxy
- For what it’s worth, I think LA’s lazy 2016-17 off-season has plagued them thus far. They picked up a good player in Roman Alessandrini – he’s been their biggest threat so far, and on a no-contest level (some evidence) – but their other big pick up, Joao Pedro, looks like…well, crap. Even when they don’t take early – or, in some cases, ever - most internationals that come to MLS typically look like they’re thinking faster. Based on everything I’ve seen out of him, Pedro does nothing well. There’s still time, but…
- Ashley Cole had a good game (example/cleaning up his own slop). The guy still has it. Same for Jermaine Jones, who played a really sound two-way game. But for how long?
- Clement Diop did not – and it went beyond that stupid first goal. Where’s Brian Rowe?
- LA has two pieces in the attack that, while sporadically productive, they have not figured them out. Emmanuel Boateng has great speed (and nice assist), but he sometimes feels like he’s soloing out there. The biggest questions, however, hang over Giovani dos Santos. I heard talk that this was supposed to be his team this season, but he played virtually no role out there yesterday. So…

OK, done with this one. I’ll write up the Timbers game tonight, then post a big weekly Monday night. The whole thing worked for the first time. Eeee!

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