LA needs a win
The fans that will attend the match on Monday night in Carson will be enjoying the festivities that the Fourth of July brings. However, Los Angeles general manager and head coach Bruce Arena and company will need to stay focus in order to win their first match since early May.
It has been eight games since the Galaxy has picked up three points. Their last victory was on May eighth at home when they were able to get by the New England Revolution with a 4-2 final scoreline. Since then, the LA Galaxy have lost twice and tied five times. Los Angeles have got creative in losing points, having blown leads or given up early goals.
However, LA cannot continue to drop points with clubs underneath them narrowing the gap. The five-time MLS Cup Champions are currently in sixth place with 23 points and a plus-10 goal differential. The Galaxy is currently holding on to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Right below them are (seventh) Sporting Kansas City and the (eighth) San Jose Earthquakes with 22 points each. The only difference between the two clubs is goal differential, SKC has a minus-2 and the Quakes have a minus-1.
The Quakes wasted an opportunity to jump ahead of the Galaxy by losing to the Chicago Fire 1-0 on Friday at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. However, Sporting KC still has a match to play on Sunday. Kansas City will be hosting the Columbus Crew SC at the Children's Mercy Park in Kansas. If SKC wins that match then they will overlap the Galaxy, the Portland Timbers, and maybe even the Caps.
The Timbers are in fifth with 23 points and the Whitecaps are in fourth with 24 points. If the Timbers lose to the Colorado Rapids on Monday and if the Galaxy wins then they can find themselves in fourth place and just two points behind third Real Salt Lake. With the clubs in the West so bunched up LA has to start finding ways to getting results or else the nightmare of the 2015 season might return.
Vancouver aiming to close the gap with the top three
The Canadian club enters this game knowing that a victory can potentially put them just one point shy from RSL. However, gaining three points can also start separating them and the rest of the pack. The Whitecaps are coming off an impressive 3-2 road victory against the Philadelphia Union on June 25th.
In fact, Vancouver became the first club this season to beat the Union at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Caps will be hoping to build off that victory since the road has not been too kind to them this campaign. In the eight matches they have played away from home, Vancouver has only managed to win three games and lost the other five.
Similar to their previous match, the Caps will be entering a place where the home team has not lost yet this season. The Galaxy has only lost five matches in the regular season at home in 57 attempts that are dating back to 2013. If the Canadians are going to leave Southern California with a rare victory then Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh, Matías Laba and Christian Bolaños will need to guide the team to victory.
Bad timing for the Galaxy with suspensions and injuries
The game has not kicked off yet and the Whitecaps already have a big advantage with Los Angeles missing three starting defenders for this clash. Arena will have to replace Jelle Van Damme, Ashley Cole, and Robbie Rogers.
Van Damme and Cole are both out of this match due to suspension from the previous game. Van Damme who has been the anchor for the Galaxy's back line this season is out due to yellow card accumulation. Cole in the other hand is suspended because of a red card he picked up in the same game.
AS for Rogers, he will be out of LA's lineup for a while since he is recovering from a recent ankle surgery he had done on June 20th. Plus Ariel Lassiter (back injury) and Dan Kennedy (leg injury) have been listed as questionable for the game.
With so many defensive injuries, Arena will most likely turn to veterans A.J. DeLaGarza and Leonardo. He also has the option to give youngsters like Dave Romney or Oscar Sorto a chance to get some major minutes. Or he can attempt to use one of his veteran midfielders in the back for this game.
One thing is for sure, Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson will not be envious of Arena's task to fill in a depleted back line.
The Caps do have a few injuries themselves, but Robinson and company can live with them. Christian Dean (meniscus tear) and Masato Kudo (fractured jaw) have been ruled out of this match. As for midfielder Deybi Flores was listed as questionable with a right adductor strain.
Some good news for LA
Arena might have a headache figuring out what to do with the defense, but at the same time, his offense just got stronger. Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes have returned from international duty and they have already participated in their first training on Friday. According to LA Galaxy Insider, Adam Serrano, Arena is feeling hopeful that they should be ready to participate on Monday.
"This is the first day we've had them back. We gave Gyasi [Zardes] about a week off. It's good to get the group back. We're getting close to being healthy," Arena told Serrano. "Obviously, the month of July is going to be big for us. I think as we hit the month of August we're going to have our team hopefully in full speed and ready to really compete."
LA banking on history against the Caps
The Galaxy has a lot of things going against them before this match commences on the Fourth of July. However, Los Angeles is in complete control of the series against the Canadian club. The two Western Conference teams have faced each other 14 times in total and LA has won nine of those matches. The LA Galaxy's total record against Vancouver is (W-D-L) 9-2-3.
The two clubs have already faced once this year in April at BC Place in Canada. The home side was able to frustrate LA's attack and hold on to a physical scoreless draw after Laba picked up an early red card in the game.
The series is completely one sided when the two teams face in Los Angeles. The Whitecaps have only won once in eight matches in Southern California. Plus the Galaxy's defense has gone on to record five clean sheets in the process. It took the Caps two years to even score their first goal at Los Angeles; it came in a 2-1 defeat in the post-season in 2012.
However, the most recent game that took place in Carson between them was last year in June and the Whitecaps stunned the Galaxy with a 1-0 victory. The speedy Manneh scored the game-winning goal in the 32nd minute. Robinson will be looking to capitalize on LA's current bad streak by pulling out their second victory in LA.
Prediction: LA 1-2 Vancouver