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Robbie Keane Leads LA Galaxy in a 2-0 Victory Over the Vancouver Whitecaps

Robbie Keane LA Galaxy
CARSON, CA - MARCH 06: Robbie Keane #7 of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick in the second half of their MLS match against D.C. United at StubHub Center on March 6, 2016 in Carson, California. The Galaxy defeated United 4-1. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

The Set Up

A beautiful 72 degree day on the 4th of July was the perfect backdrop to a MLS Western Conference battle between the LA Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Going into the contest the teams were separated by only a single point even though the Galaxy boasted an MLS best +10 goal differential.

The Galaxy were on a seven match winless run heading into the contest.

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First Half

The tempo of the ball movement was a lot quicker in the opening minutes for the Galaxy but it was the Whitecaps with the first quality opportunity of the game. Jordan Harvey slid a perfect pass in the 7th minute across the six yard box but nobody was able to get a touch on it for the tap in.

Brian Rowe, the Galaxy’s most consistent performer this year nearly made a costly mistake in the 10th minute when he took to long on the ball and Nicolás Mezquida nearly deflected the ball into the net.

Just two minutes later Robbie Keane opened the scoring with a sublime finish on his first game back from international duty. Steven Gerrard slotted a perfect pass onto the feet of Keane who with a dip of his shoulder set up the ball on his right foot for a curling strike that quite frankly was unstoppable in the upper 90 of the goal.

The goal was only matched by the celebration…

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The Whitecaps looked to have pulled one back just three minutes later in the 15th minute. However, Andrew Jacobson’s header goal was rightly called back for the offside.

Mezquida continued to cause problems for the Galaxy back line as he created a couple of half chances during the half that nearly produced a goal.

In the 44th minute the Galaxy nearly added another goal to their lead off of a curling Gerrard shot, but Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted was equal to the task and pushed it out for a corner.

Second Half

The Galaxy started off the second half on the front foot and it paid off just two minutes in. In the 47th minute, Gerrard’s corner kick was served on a platter to the head of Jeff Larentowicz and he made no mistake as he buried his header into the back of the net from close range.

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The Whitecaps complained on the play that the ball went out of bounds and that there was a push off but the goal was allowed to stand.

The Galaxy continued to mount pressure on and nearly added a third in the 55th minute when Giovani dos Santos played a perfect nutmeg plus through ball to Gerrard whose shot sliced wide of the mark.

The 62nd minute saw the Galaxy have a shout for a penalty when A.J. DeLaGarza was pushed off the ball in the box, but on further review there was nothing much there and it was a nudge at the most, play on.

The game changed in the 74th minute as Nigel de Jong was given a direct red card after the referee had initially only showed de Jong a yellow. A moment of confusion saw the referee waive off his initial yellow. Replay’s showed de Jong leaving his feet, going past the ball, and his studs hitting Blas Pérez directly on the shin with his studs.

“It wasn’t a good tackle” – Bruce Arena

The Galaxy were forced to take off Keane in order to stay solid defensively and maintain their two goal cushion.

As the Whitecaps pressed on looking for a goal to get back in the game and they nearly found it in the 83rd minute when Jacobson’s long shot was saved by Rowe. Another long shot in the 89th minute was saved by Rowe, this time taken by Pedro Morales.

An mostly even game ended in favor of the Galaxy 2-0.

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A huge win for the Galaxy as they finally ended their seven game MLS winless streak.

Unfortunately they made it harder than they had to with the sending off of de Jong. After the game, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena would say, “It wasn’t a good tackle”. Arena would add, “Tonight, it’s valid to give a red card. I think Nigel has to show better judgement”.

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Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson had a different view of things, “I like Nig, I think he’s a competitor”. Robinson was addressing the question of whether or not de Jong deserves a three match ban.

Arena thought his team performed better in the second half. Robinson was pleased with his team’s performance but obviously not the result.

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The 2-0 score line is a bit harsh and not a fair representation of the game. The Galaxy’s first goal was absolute class by Keane, but besides that there wasn’t much to separate them.

The final tally will show the Whitecaps as having 26 shots to the Galaxy’s 9. In addition, 12 corner kicks in the game for the Whitecaps compared to just 3 for the Galaxy.

Man of the Match

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, Robbie Keane. The Galaxy desperately needed a win to get themselves out of this funk and Keane provided the moment of magic that the Galaxy have been missing since Keane’s departure to the European Championships. Gerrard might have picked up two assists on the night, but he hardly did anything right on the simple pass to Keane, and Larentowicz got away with a push on the second goal.

Looking Ahead: Galaxy

It is a blow to lose de Jong just as all of the Galaxy stars are coming together for seemingly the first time this season. It has been touch and go for the Galaxy with no consistency in their performances, line-ups, players available.

If the Galaxy are able to come out of this season towards the top of the table, it may be one of coach Arena’s best ever jobs. His shifting of personnel while keeping the star players healthy has been nothing short of miraculous.

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The Galaxy will welcome back Jelle Van Damme and Ashley Cole back from suspension as they take on Seattle Sounders on the weekend. Gyasi Zardes and Keane seem to have come back at the right time for the Galaxy who have looked to have righted the ship.

Looking Ahead: Whitecaps

The Whitecaps drop another spot after Monday’s result and now sit in sixth place in the tough western conference. Although there is speculation that they may try to sign another attacking option, it may be defensively where they need the most help.

Currently, the Whitecaps are tied for the most goals conceded in the MLS and that has to change if they are to stay in playoff contention. Even the win last week against the Philadelphia Union, the Whitecaps gave up two goals and had to come from behind to do so.

Ousted has been doing his job and is tied for first in the MLS saves category with 62 saves. The Whitecaps will be looking to the transfer window which opened Tuesday and runs till August 3 to add some quality in the squad.

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The road doesn’t get any easier for the Whitecaps as they take on two teams currently ahead of them in the conference in the next week and a half.

Next Game

LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders, Saturday July 9, 12:00 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Colorado Rapids, Saturday July 9, 7:00 p.m., BC Place, Vancouver, BC.

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