CARSON, Calif. – It was the unlikeliest of victories once again for the Whitecaps in California, as they snatched two late goals on Sunday night against the Galaxy to clinch their place in the Round of 32 of the 2023 Leagues Cup.
Whitecaps “Steal” Victory Over The Galaxy
Woeful Whitecaps First Half Saved By Poor Galaxy Finishing
After a fantastic showing from the Whitecaps in their opening game of the Leagues Cup against Club Leon, expectations were high on the team to come away with a victory, especially after the Galaxy lost to Club Leon earlier in the week. However, Galaxy started the match in incredible fashion, forcing the Whitecaps back and making them struggle to keep up.
“We had a bad first half”, explained Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini after the match, “even though we had some chances, the Galaxy were the best team on the field”
“We weren’t able to press them, we were too scared. We weren’t doing the thing we usually do [in] attacking and trying to win the ball high. They have quality players in the midfield, and that’s why they were the best team in the first half”.
But despite the Galaxy having the majority of possession and chances, they couldn’t finish them off. Only a moment of magic from Riqui Puig saw Galaxy take a lead into half-time, with momentum fully on their side. It would be this lack of clear finishing that would invite the Whitecaps into the game in the second half.
– Yao beside Laborda doesn’t fill me with confidence
– Ngando has been a pleasure to watch
– A bit quiet from Gauld so far
– The urgency isn’t here for #VWFC. Hoping this is similar to the Leon match where they pick it up in the 2nd half
– Puig…one of the best
— Nathan Durec (@ndurec) July 31, 2023
Substitutes The Difference For The ‘Caps
The Whitecaps started the game better in the second half, but it was still mostly one-way traffic for the Galaxy. A few close calls almost gave the Galaxy the two-goal lead, but once again they failed to take advantage of their superiority. And it was in the 76th minute where Vancouver would turn the tides in their favour
Deiber Caicedo and Levonte Johnson would come in for Alessandro Schopf and Sergio Cordova, who both had quiet nights compared to the previous form. That would give the ‘Caps the needed spark to exploit some of the spaces that Galaxy were leaving behind, and turn the tables on the Californian side.
“The fact, at the end that we have what I call ‘situation’ players like Deiber [Caicedo] and Levonte [Johnson], two pure wingers, that can change our system in a 4-4-2 and create them problems is also something we know we have in our weapons, and confirmation that they are important played” remarked Sartini in the post-match.
A whipped cross from Gauld caused the Galaxy to panic, diverting the ball into their net through Calegari in the 81-minute. Things got a bit nervier for the Galaxy from that moment, as nerves started settling in as time passed. Then, in the most frantic of manners, the Whitecaps would snatch the victory through Brian White in the 91-minute.
An acrobatic pass by Gauld would feed in White, whose stumbling shot would beat Novak Micovic and secure the Whitecaps an unlikely winner.
“At the end, I think we deserved to tie, but the win is a steal” admitted Sartini to the media, “I don’t think we deserved to win [in regular time].”
But it’s not how you win them in the end, its that you win them, and the Whitecaps managed to steal that victory and eliminate the Galaxy from the competition.
LEAGUES CUP: Absolute drama in Los Angeles.
Hollywood, of course.
— Ben Steiner (@BenSteiner00) July 31, 2023
Looking Forward To Tigres
With their place sealed in the Round of 32, their opponent was sealed around an hour after their match concluded, with Tigres defeating San Jose Earthquakes by a goal to nil. This next game against them will be held at BC Place on Friday, and will be a rematch of the 2017 Concacaf Champions League tie where Tigres came away with a 4-1 victory on aggregate.
For the Whitecaps, it will be another opportunity to give a strong showing as they did against reigning Concacaf Champions League winners Club Leon. And with a lengthy break the alternative to progressing in the competition, the Whitecaps will want to extend their time in Leagues Cup so to was to continue their momentum before a extremely tough seven-game away run in late-August/early-September
“It’s good to see that we can pick up results against good teams” explained captain-on-the-field Ryan Gauld in the mixed zone after the match,” because once Leagues Cup is over, we’re going to have to try to take that [momentum] into the MLS.
And with impressive displays at home and the ability to smash-and-grab victories when being second best, Whitecaps fans will hope that they can take a deep run into this competition and perhaps get their second piece of silverware of the season.
The @LeaguesCup Round of 32 is set
Fri, Aug 4th
@BCPlace #VWFC STMs have until July 31 to opt into their seats. Single tickets will be on sale starting at 10 am PT on July 31 at https://t.co/5b2gbP9MXp #VWFC| #LeaguesCup2023
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) July 31, 2023
Photo Credit: LA Galaxy
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