Western Conference Knockout Round
LA Galaxy vs Vancouver Whitecaps
Thursday, November 1, 2012
The Home Depot Center
Kick-off: 7:30 p.m
The regular season is over and on Thursday night the reigning MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy will begin their quest to win it all again when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps in a one-game knockout round. The Galaxy and Whitecaps, 4th and 5th place respectively, will play for a spot in the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Earthquakes.
It was a long season for the Galaxy. The team struggled right from the start, winning just three of the first thirteen games of the season, not counting eliminations in the CONCACAF Champions League and US Open Cup. In the second part of the season we saw the Galaxy look more like the team that won the Cup the previous year, ending the season with just four defeats in the last 21 games. The return of Omar Gonzalez in the backline was clinical for LA, as the team has lost three games since his first appearance this season. Also important was the return of Josh Saunders, as the Galaxy would go winless in 7 league games during his absence. All Galaxy wins have been with Saunders in goal.
Deservingly so, the Galaxy’s Player of the Year Award was given to Robbie Keane. The Irishman led the team with 16 goals this season, tallying more shots on goal than anyone else on the team as well. Landon Donovan had the most assists, but just as important have been contributions from players like AJ DeLaGarza, Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas, David Beckham, Todd Dunivant, Sean Franklin, and even the reserves, who won their division in the Reserve League and contributed to help the Galaxy advance to CCL Quarterfinals.
All that is over now. The Galaxy is five games away from having the opportunity to hoist the MLS Cup for a second consecutive year, but difficult opponents stand in the way. None of that will be possible if LA is unable to get past Vancouver Thursday night, though. The Galaxy and Whitecaps met three times during the regular season, with LA winning two of those games and coming back from an 0-2 deficit and eventually tying the game at 2 in the other one. A total of seven goals were scored against Vancouver in three games, with the Whitecaps scoring no goals in two visits to the HDC. In the five meetings between the two since the ‘Caps joined MLS, Vancouver has only managed to get 1 point out of 15 against LA.
The Whitecaps did not end their season in good form. Winning only two out of their last eleven games since August, Vancouver managed to claim a playoff spot due to how poor Dallas, Colorado, Portland, and Chivas USA were. The Whitecaps had 43 points in the West while Columbus, with 52 points in the East, wasn’t able to get into playoffs.
None of that matters. On Thursday night a whole new season begins for 10 teams looking to be crowned in December. Here is how the Galaxy and Whitecaps ended their regular seasons:
54 points, 59 GF, 47 GA
16-12-6, 4th in Western Conference
Home Record: 10-6-1
Away Record: 6-6-5
43 points, 35 GF, 41 GA
11-13-10, 5th in Western Conference
Home Record: 8-3-6
Away Record: 3-10-4
THIS IS LA!