Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Uncertainty Deluxe for LA?

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst ISeptember 15, 2011

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JULY 30:   Head coach Bruce Arena of the Los Angeles Galaxy looks on from the bench during their MLS game July 30, 2011 against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy are a wounded bunch as they straggle, bleeding, dazed and confused, ahead of their Saturday Major League Soccer contest against the Vancouver Whitecaps (Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports West).

Donovan Ricketts' return couldn't have come at a better time. Any more starts for Josh Saunders in league play and the crowd at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California may as well leave the stadium in tears.

That's because Saunders unacceptably conceded two goals from Monarcas Morelia in CONCACAF Champions League action on Tuesday, while the team was denied a second of their own due to an offsides call.

Of course, they were missing Juninho that night for sure, but that is a different story.

As for captain Landon Donovan, it was a matter of "What, Me Worry?".

“We’re fine, actually,” Donovan told MLSSoccer.com's Luis Bueno. “We executed our game plan exactly how we wanted. If a couple of calls go our way it’s a completely different game and we’re really happy walking out of here. Overall the effort was great and we can’t be too disappointed.”

Now, the Galaxy will come into the contest with Vancouver as prohibitive favorites, but with the inept play as of late, it's safe to say that the Caps actually have a chance to make this a game.

Sean Franklin
Sean FranklinJeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Los Angeles sports a 15-3-10 record (55 points) and is within touching distance of the MLS Supporters' Shield. Vancouver, meanwhile, are in the cellar with the league's worst record: A dismal 4-13-10 record (22 points).

The Caps are already out of the postseason picture, their brand-new house is nearly ready to go...they have nothing to lose. Literally.

Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Zero. For the Whitecaps, this is their MLS Cup.

Actually, before my prediction for this prediction, I have another prediction. Montreal will host the All-Star Game next year, while BC Place gets the MLS Cup. Yep, you heard it here first. You can quote me on it. I give you my blessings, Amen.

Moving right along, Vancouver is led by the French scoring talisman Eric Hassli, who has 10 goals this season. Also shouldering the scoring workload is Camilo Sanvezzo, who has eight goals on a team-leading 65 attempts.

Davide Chiumiento remains the Caps' top provider with eights assists this season. Goalkeeper Joe Cannon has 49 saves to his credit in what has been an atrocious inaugural season.

Hint, hint, and hint: If team captain Jay DeMerit is able to suit up for Vancouver, we could have ourselves a match at Victoria Street. DeMerit, according to a team grade report by the Province, is the reason why the Caps still maintain some sort of relevancy despite their last-place standing; aside from Hassli.

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JULY 30:  A young Whitecaps fan sports a tattoo on his cheek during the MLS game between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC July 30, 2011 at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Otherwise, look for the Frenchman and the Brazilian to each get plenty of looks on goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who has a 7-1-4 record, a 0.49 goals against average and an 81.4 percent save percentage.

Donovan leads the Galaxy in goals with 12, while midfielder David Beckham has a team-high 12 assists. Back issues prevented Beckham from making his presence felt in Morelia and his fitness will be critical to LA's fortunes on Saturday.

For Vancouver, they need to take a page out of Morelia's playbook and pressure the back line of Omar Gonzalez, Frankie Hejduk, A.J. DeLaGarza and Todd Dunivant. And they need to press and play direct for a full 90 minutes.

There is no other option for a team that wants to build on something for next season. Throw everything and two kitchen sinks.

As for Los Angeles, the Morelia loss will motivate this side to rebound. It's either going to be an uncertainty deluxe, or a predictable surprise from this shell-shocked squadron in white.


Chalk this up as a win for Los Angeles. Hassli will be the chicken thief on Saturday, but one goal is as far as Vancouver will get. The Galaxy must rebound from Tuesday's harrowing result. With Donovan, Robbie Keane and hopefully a healthy Beckham available, the Galaxy have the ingredients to make this match decisive.

Los Angeles Galaxy 3, Vancouver Whitecaps 1


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.