2017 has not been pleasant for the Galaxy or the Whitecaps
Both Western Conference clubs have played three games this season, and their combined point total as of now is four. Their struggles are evident in the standings of the Western Conference, Los Angeles is currently in eighth place and the Canadian club is in 10th. Not to mention that the two teams have a negative goal differential after three games.
The usually high-flying Galaxy has stumbled out of the gates this Major League Soccer campaign. For the first time in franchise's history, Los Angeles lost their first two home games to start the season. The Galaxy was finally able to win their first match on March 18th at Rio Tinto Stadium. LA defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1 with a second half goal from Emmanuel Boateng.
LA will now be heading to Vancouver with a 1-2-0 (W-L-D) record and a negative one goal differential. LA’s head coach Curt Onalfo will be hoping to leave Canada with a second straight victory. As for the Whitecaps, their start to the season has been a mixed bag for them.
CONCACAF Champions League or MLS season which to choose for the Caps
After three matches the Canadian club has only earned one point. In their opener of the season, Vancouver picked up their only point against the Philadelphia Union in a scoreless draw at home on March 5th. Since that game, they lost to the San Jose Earthquakes and to their fellow Canadian rivals Toronto FC at home.
However, the Caps head coach Carl Robinson has had to balance between the MLS season and the post season of the CCL. At the current moment, Vancouver is in the semifinals of the tournament and just days away before their final match of the series kicks off against Mexican powerhouse Tigres UANL.
On Wednesday the Whitecaps will be welcoming Tigres to BC Place for the decisive second leg of the series. They are currently down 0-2 in the aggregate after losing the first match on March 14th at the Estadio Universitario.
Due to how close the CCL semifinal game will take place after Saturday's game, Robinson will most likely be forced to rest some starters for their semis clash.
However, Robinson might be tempted to use Tony Tchani. The 27-year-old midfielder was just traded to Vancouver from the Columbus Crew today after the club acquired him and $300,000 in allocation money for the service of the speedster Kekuta Manneh.
Los Angeles will be hoping that the Canadian club is concentrating on the looming Champions League match since the Galaxy’s injury list seems to be increasing on the regular.
LA is riddled with injuries
The Galaxy has been without Robbie Rogers (Ankle injury), Ashley Cole (Calf strain) and Gyasi Zardes (Knee surgery) since the start of the season. With Rogers and Cole out the defense has suffered, they have allowed four goals in three games. Their injuries have forced Onalfo to dig deep and find solutions to ride out the rough start of the season.
However, there is some good news for the Galaxy; it seems Cole is ready to return to the pitch.
“I’ve had a good two weeks of training, and I feel good and ready for Saturday. It was a strange injury because I went to turn my body and put my foot down and that’s when I felt it go," Cole told LA Galaxy Insider Adam Serrano. "I felt fit going into that game too, but it hasn’t been too bad. The recovery has gone well, and I’m ready to being back now.”
Onalfo has stated, that the former English international fullback will be available for the match. Zardes has also been training with the team again, but there has been no word if the US international will be participating in his first competitive game of the year.
However, this season has proven to be consistent in one factor for the Galaxy and that is in injuries. Against the Portland Timbers, Giovani dos Santos strained his hamstring in the first half. In result, the Mexican international was forced to exit the match at halftime.
Dos Santos injury kept him out of the game against RSL and from Mexico’s World Cup qualifiers. The two-time World Cup veteran has started working out again and might be able to return this game since Onalfo has declared him fit for this match.
"I feel great. Finally, I’m back with the team," dos Santos told Serrano. "I feel 100 percent. I’m ready to go on Saturday. I feel confident to start if I’m asked against Vancouver."
The international break added another key injury for the Galaxy, US international Sebastian Lletget was injured during the WCQ against Honduras last Friday. Lletget was only able to play 18 minutes of the match and then was subbed off. He then had a surgery on his foot and will now be missing four to six months.
The Galaxy will be once again without a bulk of their starters and Onalfo will need to figure how to pick up three points in Canada. As for Robinson, his injuries are the same Brett Levis (ACL Tear), Yordy Reyna (Foot surgery) and David Edgar (PCL and MCL tear). However, the Caps will be without Brek Shea since he is serving a one-game suspension due to a red card.
How LA or the Caps pick up three points?
The two clubs roads to victory are the same score first and make the other team react. If the Whitecaps score first then the depleted Galaxy squad will be forced to open up and go after an equalizer. The Southern California team has shown that scoring goal this season has been a struggle for them. So forcing them to respond with a goal themselves might be a bridge too far for them.
As for LA, they will need to score first and force Robinson to have a more aggressive game plan and waste energy before the crucial CCL semifinal matchup.
For the two traditionally offensive-minded clubs this season can easily slip out of control if they do not start picking up some points pronto.