If the LA Galaxy's failure to engineer a coherent attack in the final third wasn't aggravating enough, their lapses at the back ensured they would not be leaving Vancouver with a point.
The Galaxy conceded three goals in the final half-hour of Saturday night's 3-1 loss to the Whitecaps, and there's no doubting the quality of the home team's work – at least on the first two goals – but LA still were angered by miscues that cost them heavily in a game in which they thought, certainly until the first goal, they would prevail.
“I wouldn't say [Vancouver's was] brilliant offense,” head coach Bruce Arena, whose team plays Wednesday at Philadelphia (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live) and Sunday at New York, said on the club's postgame telecast, “but we got pushed around a bunch of plays in [our] penalty area that created goals. They just outworked us for a couple goals tonight. We didn't have enough players that made the kind of plays that make a difference in a game like this.”
There was blame to go around as Russell Teibert took the Whitecaps to a 2-0 advantage with strikes in the 63rd and 76th minutes and Darren Mattocks ended all doubt with a stoppage-time finish. Rookie Greg Cochrane, so good in his first three starts in place of injured left back Todd Dunivant, was outsmarted on all three goals; backline leader Omar Gonzalez got turned around on one, and nobody stepped up on the finale.
“We give up that first goal, that kind of deflates us and gives them a lot of momentum, and it really puts a dagger in us,” Gonzalez said. “At that point, they started winning a lot of balls in midfield, and I thought before that we were playing a great game and we were getting tons of chances and we didn't have that killer instinct in our final third.
"They sort of found a way to get their goals, and credit to them for that, but we've got to be better in the final third and also just keep them out of our goal as well.”
Cochrane didn't close space on Teibert on the first goal – he won each of the next two battles with him that followed – and several things conspired to make the second goal possible: Gershon Koffie's turn on a dime taking Gonzalez out of the play, A.J. DeLaGarza's retreat into the goalmouth opening space in the middle, and Cochrane and Juninho ball-watching as Teibert sprinted in to finish.
“We have to be a little bit more aggressive, push our lines more and not let them get into our final third,” said Gonzalez, who acknowledged he “overcommitted” on the pass to Koffie. “I think we were a little bit tired and not pushing our lines the way they should.”
The last one, with the Galaxy pushed up in search of an equalizer – Gonzalez played forward, more or less, the final 15 minutes – came from a throw-in on the right that LA defended miserably, with Koffie was behind three Galaxy players to receive the ball. He chipped past Cochrane, who was able to then bump Jordan Harvey off the ball but do no more, and Mattocks just turned and finished at the right post. Arena called it “ridiculous.”
“Everything is a learning process,” Gonzalez said. “We're still early, we're doing a lot better than we were last year, so we know that we just have to start doing better and turning things around.”