VANCOUVER, B.C. -- It wasn't necessarily a thrilling first half for the Vancouver Whitecaps, but the home side went on and rallied twice from a goal down against the LA Galaxy in Saturday's 2-2 draw.
“Totally important we got a result today,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said. “In the last two games we've shown we can compete with one of the top teams in Major League Soccer in LA, and a top manager. It was hard, hard work. We made it hard work. I don't think in the first half we had the belief that we could go toe-to-toe with them at home in front of our own fans. I think we were playing safe.”
But for Robinson, the willingness from his players to keep pushing for an equalizer at BC Place after Galaxy star Robbie Keane sent the visitors ahead in the 77th minute is a reason to feel positive about the point.
“I'm sick of the sight of Robbie in the last two weeks,” Robinson told reporters dryly in relation to Keane's go-ahead strike. “I really am. But, it's more about the character my team showed today. A young group of players that not only got kicked in the backside once to go one down, but got kicked in the backside twice to go 2-1 down, but still didn't give up.”
It was one of those young players that scored the game's decisive goal. Kekuta Manneh came off the bench at halftime and picked the bottom corner of Jaime Penedo's goal in the 86th minute with a shot from outside the area that salvaged a point for the Whitecaps.
Following the game, Robinson admitted he thought of starting the 19-year-old Manneh after his relatively strong showing against the Galaxy in last weekend's 1-0 loss at StubHub Center.
- Get more Vancouver Whitecaps postgame reaction at WhitecapsFC.com
“I made a tactical switch to inject a little bit of life with the kid coming on, Kekuta, who I toyed with the idea of playing with from the start,” Robinson said. “Maybe me, being a young head coach thought, is it better to be in the game and then unleash the youngin', but I made the decision at half-time obviously with him.”
As for the player himself, Manneh said after the match he's happy to bide his time and play a substitute role if that helps his team pick up points.
“It will come,” Manneh said of a regular starting role. “It's obviously – a young player will be in and out of the [starting] eleven, so it really wasn't that frustrating. You may take it in a different way, but I thought it was coach's decision. I'm happy coming off the bench and helping out the team, and it worked out today.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.