Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LA Galaxy
Venue: BC Place – Saturday, April 1 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)
Match Odds: Vancouver 5/4 – Draw 11/5 – LA Galaxy 21/10
Vancouver Whitecaps host LA Galaxy in a key Western Conference battle on Saturday night, with both sides looking to climb the standings after below-par starts to the season.
Vancouver are still looking for their first win of the campaign. They opened the season with a goalless draw at home to Philadelphia but followed it up with back-to-back defeats at San Jose and then at home to Toronto last time out.
The 2-0 home defeat to Toronto will have particularly worried Carl Robinson as the ‘Caps conceded twice in four minutes late on to leave them at the bottom of the West along with Minnesota.Embed from Getty Images
They need to try and get three points on the board here as they have four consecutive away games on the horizon. Another defeat here would leave alarm bells ringing.
LA Galaxy haven’t looked like the side we’re used to seeing dominate the league so far but they did get their first win of the season at Real Salt Lake two weeks ago, with second-half goals from Dave Romney and Emmanuel Boateng guiding them to three big points to get Curt Onalfo off the mark in MLS.Embed from Getty Images
The Galaxy will fancy their chances of getting three more points at Vancouver this weekend, although they haven’t won at BC Place in almost four years and have lost Sebastian Lletget for the majority of the season.
The boost for LA is that a host of key players are set to return to action here, with Ashley Cole and Gyasi Zardes both in contention to get their first starts of the season. A stronger Galaxy lineup should only increase their chances.
This will be the 17th MLS meeting between these Western Conference rivals. LA hold the advantage based on previous matches, having won nine of the previous 16 clashes. However, they haven’t won away at Vancouver since 2013.
Vancouver have lost exciting winger Kekuta Manneh after accepting a trade from Columbus on Thursday which has seen Toni Tchani move to the ‘Caps in return. Brek Shea is suspended after seeing red in the 2-0 loss to Toronto two weeks ago, while Brett Levis, Yordy Reyna and David Edgar are all injured.
LA Galaxy head coach Curt Onalfo has been rocked by the news that Sebastian Lletget will be out for 4-6 months with a foot injury picked up while on international duty with the USA. Robbie Rogers also remains out, but Gyasi Zardes and Ashley Cole could make their first starts of the 2017 season here. Giovani Dos Santos and Jermaine Jones are also expected to play.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ form: D/L/L
LA Galaxy’s form: L/L/W
Key Stat: Close affair – There have only been seven goals in the last six regular season meetings between these two sides – an average of just 1.2 per game – so this is expected to be a hard-fought battle between two sides desperate for points.
Key Player: Giovani Dos Santos – The Mexican attacker is one of the league’s best players and needs to cope with the increased pressure on his shoulders this season if LA Galaxy are to continue to be successful. He missed the win at RSL last time out but will be looking to prove the difference on his return to action here, if passed fit as expected.
Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 LA Galaxy – This looks set to be another low-scoring battle between two Western Conference sides that need to start building momentum after far from convincing starts to 2017. Vancouver are struggling for goals, with the loss of Manneh set to do little to aid them in that department, and LA will look to keep their first clean sheet of the season as Cole returns to the side. Away win.