Preview: Galaxy, 'Caps clash in Western Conference Knockout game
LA GALAXY v VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Thurs., Nov. 1, The Home Depot Center (7:30 p.m. PT; NBC SN; TSN/RDS2, UDN)
REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu.
AR1 (bench): Daniel Belleau; AR2 (opposite): Darren Clark;
4th: Ricardo Salazar
LEAGUE - HEAD-TO-HEAD: LA 4 wins, 14 goals … VAN 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
2012 HEAD-TO-HEAD: LA 2 wins, 7 GF; VAN 0 wins, 2 GF; 1 ties
AT THE HOME DEPOT CENTER:
6/23: LA 3, VAN 0 (Magee 16; Keane 30; Donovan 41)
9/1: LA 2, VAN 0 (Juninho 41; Beckham 79)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: First meeting.
- With a road match in El Salvador in the CONCACAF Champions League and their season finale last week, the Galaxy split their squad. Now they head into the knockout round match knowing a win will mean a conference semifinal match vs. San Jose on Sunday.
- "I think as we enter the playoffs if we have any aspirations of defending our MLS Cup title, I think obviously we’re going to need to use (these) players," said Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena. "We know that group is going to be real difficult on Thursday and if we’re fortunate to get past them, it’s a quick turnaround."
- There were some welcome signs out of the season finale win against Seattle. Landon Donovan was able to return to the lineup and played 90 minutes. David Beckham also came back into the team and played 62 minutes.
- “I didn’t expect Landon to play 90 [minutes]. Beckham would have played 90 if I had allowed it. He’s probably going to have me removed from my position," said Bruce Arena. "... We need to be smart about that. It was predetermined and we discussed that in advance of this game and he understood the minutes he was going to play.”
- Edson Buddle made his second consecutive start, in a seventh consecutive appearance, and partnered Robbie Keane in attack. Donovan moved back to a wide attacking role in midfield, with Christian Wilhelmsson on the opposite side. Marcelo Sarvas was kept out of the first team in league play for the first time since June.
- “It’s great to have options; it’s great for Bruce to have options. Marcelo has been in good form, but Edson has come in (and) he’s playing well, he can beat some people up there and it’s good to have a player like him," said Beckham. "And then obviously with Landon’s pace on the left and Christian’s on the right it gives us many options.”
- Robbie Keane collected his ninth assist of the season on Mike Magee's game-winning goal in the season finale.
- “I’ve always been that kind of player to always create chances. In England, I was kind of a No. 10 -- always played off a big man and played in the hole. Especially when I was at Tottenham for such a long time, I played in the hole and my job was to score goals," Keane said. "I think when people see you as a striker they always judge you on your goals rather than your other play – your team play or your assists.”
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
- While winless on the road since a 1-0 win in Colorado on July 4, Whitecaps FC were able to put an end to a seven-game losing skid on their travels in the season finale.
- “From what I’ve seen so far in MLS, that’s probably the blueprint for playing on the road and (against RSL) we didn’t manage to nick the goal we would have liked, but we did stay very solid,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “That’s very important to take with us as we go into Thursday and the playoffs.”
- Whitecaps FC come into the playoffs off back-to-back attacking shutouts, blanked in seven of their final 10 league games. Whitecaps FC have kept a clean sheet in three of their last four games.
- "It was our 12th clean sheet this season, so that puts us at third in the league. I think it was a disciplined performance away from home," said Rennie. "When you come on the road that is how you have to play; be hard to beat, be hard to play against and if you get your chance, take it.”
- For the season finale, Rennie dropped the Designated Player duo of Barry Robson and Kenny Miller, in addition to Camilo. Darren Mattocks and Dane Richards started up top, with John Thorrington slotting into midfield.
- “We showed a starting lineup that worked well and then we had players that were able to come on and change the game,” Rennie said. “At the end I think we looked more dangerous, and I think Barry and Kenny played an important part in that. So, we’ve got a couple of decisions to make going into the game in LA.”
- Whitecaps FC head into the first playoff game in club history with just four players with MLS postseason experience -- Atiba Harris, Dane Richards, John Thorrington and Joe Cannon.
- "I feel that we have improved the most ... out of the teams in MLS this season," said Rennie. "That is something really positive that we can hang our hat to. We should feel good about what we have been able to do this season and the best part of the season starts on Thursday.”
- If there has been a bogey team for Whitecaps FC, it's the LA Galaxy. Vancouver did not score in their first three meetings with LA, and still have yet to score a goal in three encounters all-time at The Home Depot Center. “We have never had a real good result down there so our main focus will be to change that. We are going to try to create the perfect game when we are there,” said defender Alain Rochat.