VANCOUVER, B.C. — It may have been the Vancouver Whitecaps' biggest defeat as an MLS team, but it was far from their worst performance of the season.
Despite having an impressive opening 30 minutes, the Whitecaps suffered a 4-0 drubbing to the league-leading LA Galaxy in front of 27,500 fans at Empire Field on Saturday.
Despite the lopsided result, the Whitecaps looked dangerous for many stretches of the match. Ultimately, a lack of finishing and an inability to deal with the counterattack undid a promising start.
“I think it happens a lot in soccer,” midfielder Shea Salinas told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “You get momentum and can’t find the back of the net, and things change. We have to finish those chances – I have to finish that chance and we go up 1-0 and it’s a different story.”
Inspired by their biggest crowd of the season, the ‘Caps created a number of chances in the first half and came within inches of taking a 1-0 lead.
Perhaps their best chance came in the 59th minute after Salinas cut in before hitting a low shot past a sprawling Josh Saunders. However, the Puerto Rican international 'keeper got lucky, as Salinas’ effort bounced off the post to safety, to the chagrin of the Southsiders supporters group behind his goal.
The Texan winger was the star of the show in last week’s 2-2 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes, but this week was a different story. Following Salinas’ miss, Landon Donovan opened the scoring by converting a breakaway after Michael Boxall lost his footing.
“We knew exactly what they were going to do coming in,” Salinas said. “When they’re away, they sit with a block of eight and counterattack. They like to frustrate you and that’s what they did. We got frustrated and tried to force the pass, lost it, and they counterattacked and scored off it. It’s just a quick turn of events.”
Donovan’s goal completely swung the momentum of the game, and the Galaxy went on to score three more in one of the most impressive second-half performances of this Major League Soccer season.
“That’s the difference between a good team and a team that’s where we are,” Soehn said. “You have to bury those chances. A guy like Landon needs one chance and he buries it.”
Veteran Peter Vagenas came off the bench for the final 17 minutes of the match against his old team, but it wasn’t a happy reunion.
“To go a goal down against these guys, it’s sort of their bread and butter – you knew they were going to pack up shop,” Vagenas said. “We came in and changed our tactics a bit, and again gave up – and this is not to disrespect anybody on this team – we gave away three amateur-level goals. The second, third and fourth ones.”
The Whitecaps now look to their final 12 games to try and seek a strong end to what has been a difficult year, starting with the Chicago Fire at home on Sunday next week.
“Everyone is extremely frustrated, but we have to move forward,” Salinas said. “We have a lot of games left and we owe it to our fans and the coaching staff to turn things around and start winning.”