Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Galaxy faced a battle on two fronts on Saturday, March 18. On the field, LA will feel vexed not to record their first win after a disallowed Dejan Joveljić goal meant the Galaxy’s home opener would end in a 1-1 tie against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Off the field, the Galaxy’s supporters staged another round of protests that started pregame and did not end until well into the match. They could be heard drumming outside the stadium, while there usually packed Victoria Block section inside Dignity Health Sports Park had only pockets filled. These LA Galaxy, Vancouver Post match talking points will break down how both battles played out.
LA Galaxy, Vancouver Post Match
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) March 19, 2023
Galaxy Get Robbed
“It wasn’t a handball,” were LA Galaxy Head Coach Greg Vanney’s first words in reference to Joveljić’s disallowed goal on entering the LA Galaxy, Vancouver post-match press conference. It’s hard to argue with him. It was a game-changing moment that should have granted LA a comeback victory after Right Back Kelvin Leerdam scored their equalizer just before halftime. Furthermore, it robbed them of a needed win after an uninspired draw in week two against Sporting KC and an opening-day loss to FCD.
The Galaxy thought they’d grabbed a comeback win in the 76-minute after Raheem Edwards did good work to get down the left wing and sent a cross into Joveljić. The ball took a deflection off two Vancouver defenders and struck the Serbian before he settled it and struck a volley into the center of Vancouver Keeper Yohei Takaoka’s goal. Joveljić had barely turned to celebrate before Referee Victor Rivas took the life out of the party by waving the goal off.
Rivas got it wrong though. Replays show the ball coming off the area where the upper arm meets Joveljić’s chest. Rivas wouldn’t know because he couldn’t be bothered to go look at the play under VAR review. Vanney was sure to call out Rivas’ error. “You can ask Dejan [Joveljić]. I think he would know. But, also, watching the video is very… for me, it’s obvious. But, again, the referee was behind the ball about 25 yards and behind the player. But, somehow saw it. So, I just don’t understand why we’re there in the world of VAR. We don’t need that guess.”
— LA Galaxy 310 (@LAGalaxy310) March 19, 2023
Greg Vanney Bets on Tyler Boyd
Rivas’ miscue undid a night in which the Galaxy played their best soccer of the season. The most persistent problem in LA’s attack so far has been a lack of width. The inability to stretch the field hampered the Galaxy from getting effective service into Joveljić in the first two matches. Tyler Boyd’s inclusion in the starting lineup was Vanney’s answer to this problem. And unlike Rivas, Vanney got it right. Boyd immediately brought freshness to the Galaxy attack that resulted in Joveljić having two shots on goal in the first three minutes.
“I’m pleased. Dynamic. Competitive. Feisty,” Vanney said of Boyd’s first performance for the Galaxy. “Got some good 1-on-1 action where he can show he can imbalance people on the 1-on-1. He has some pace to get in behind. Some good movements. He’s got some quality in the service, for sure. So, it was good to get him going.”
Boyd’s energy on and off the ball was in stark contrast to Efraín Álvarez’s evening. The Mexican international was at fault for losing Tristan Blackmon on Vancouver’s goal after a beautiful cross from Julian Gressel. The ease at which Álvarez lost focus on the set piece will surely have Vanney thinking about a Boyd/Memo Rodríguez wing pairing next outing. The latter was a spark plug in his introduction. He was more dangerous than Álvarez and got to the touchline frequently. It’s hard to see Vanney leaving out either Boyd or Rodríguez next week.
— Alex Ruiz (@AlxRuiz15) March 19, 2023
Jonathan Bond Busted Up
While it may be easy for Vanney to settle on wingers next week, he might be forced into his goalkeeper selection. A 23-minute collision with Edwards leveled Jonathan Bond, and he was down while receiving medical care for at least five minutes. In the end, Galaxy’s #1 had to be taken off in favor of Jonathan Klinsmann. And while he was able to walk off unassisted, Bond clearly left with his arm or shoulder bothering him. He walked through the LA Galaxy, Vancouver post-match presser in a sling which seemed to confirm a bigger injury. It will be a big miss for LA, as Bond showed brilliant form last week and they are already dealing with the absence of two DPs.
Klinsmann claimed he was “ready.” After playing infrequently last season and not at all this campaign yet, Klinsmann came in and deputized efficiently. He had an important late-game save that preserved the victory for LA. It demonstrated that although Klinsmann doesn’t play every day, the Galaxy knows they can count on him to step in if needed.
“You always have to be ready and even on the warmup, you have to do it like you are going to play,” Klinsmann explained while giving his thoughts on his performance and the match. “I think I did the best I could, and I think I did it well. I think there was maybe one save in the last minute where it was a little bit dangerous but other than that, I think it was an okay game, a decent game. And now we move on.”
Despite Vanney saying Bond’s injury “isn’t too serious,” it might be a good idea for Klinsmann to keep being ready.
— Michael Romo (@basicdogdad) March 19, 2023
Defending the Badge
It was tough to call this one. A few different Galaxy players deserve the award this week. Martín Cáceres recorded a game-high nine clearances and won eight of nine duels. Riqui Puig finished the match with a game-high six successful dribbles. Kelvin Leerdam scored his first goal, an important equalizer, in three years. These players were all worthy of their on-field contributions. The winner is the LA Galaxy supporter groups, however.
The SG fuel themselves on the belief that their actions are necessary to save the club from mismanagement from Chris Klein and the front office. Whether you agree with their methods or not, their cause is noble. They seek simply to return the Galaxy to their rightful place as one of the most important MLS clubs. And their movement seems to be having an effect.
Saturday’s match was the most poorly attended home opener since the 2013 season with 23,112. At kickoff, the atmosphere in the normally raucous stadium was more akin to a funeral reception. The stadium did fill out as the game progressed and in that regard, the protest must be considered a draw as well. The Galaxy made sure to bring the crowd more into the game with some exciting moments as well. For a moment, it felt like old times in LA when Joveljić scored his game-winner.
But that atmosphere, like the joy from Joveljić’s “winner” was fleeting. The Galaxy must find a way to mend fences with their own supporters. If not, they’ll be fighting a battle on two fronts every home match. They will have some relief as they travel to play Portland next Saturday, but they’ll be back at arms on April 1 when they face Seattle and their own supporters at home.
A minute in the game and it looks like the bluff has been called in the #kleinout question. Victoria Block looks like a funeral reception. At times it is quiet enough to hear the players and the vibe just kinda feels flat. Sin Alma. #LAvVan | 0-0 | #MLS | #MLSSeasonPass pic.twitter.com/Reu2EAM72z
— El Escudero de LA (@ElEscuderoDeLA) March 19, 2023
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