Galaxy head North for clash with Whitecaps

Mandatory Credit: Alex Gallardo-USA TODAY Sports
The Galaxy head north of the border to face the Vancouver Whitecaps, current leaders of the Western Conference.

Coming off the team’s first loss this season at the hands of crosstown rivals LAFC, the Galaxy (3-1-3) will hit the road to visit the Vancouver Whitecaps (4-1-1), current leaders of the Western Conference. 

The difference maker during the El Trafico loss to LAFC last weekend was a penalty kick converted by Denis Bouanga, a play that Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney still holds the same sentiment about the penalty, but he also knows the G’s didn’t execute well either.

”I do think it wasn’t a penalty, I think that’s been pretty clear,” Greg Vanney said. “At this point in the season I’m looking at our performances and our performance on the day wasn’t where we needed to be if we’re going to be successful.”

The Whitecaps enter this week’s 1 vs. 2 matchup in the West on the heels of a 4-0 thrashing of Toronto last weekend, adding to their MLS leading +8 goal differential and launching Vancouver to the top of the West with 13 points.

The G’s, who have also not won in Vancouver since 2019, look to clean up some issues in the backline.

A problem that has plagued the Galaxy all season and came up again against LAFC during Ilie Sanchez’s fourth minute header, is defending set pieces. Six of the 11 goals the Galaxy have conceded this season have come from set pieces.

“Our guys need to get back and sort their marks out quickly. They know who they’re supposed to mark, they need to get on them and be responsible for those. These little gaps and little things have punished us in these situations and it has to get better” Vanney said. 

The G’s didn’t have the same connectivity and poise on the offensive end when going against LAFC’s defensive low block, which crowded the final third, clogged passing lanes and most importantly, kept Riqui Puig at bay.

Vanney thinks the answer to get Puig and the rest of the attack back on track is patience.

”He needs to be more patient, he needs to connect with everybody,” Vanney said of Puig. “Sometimes he just needs to stay high and be patient and let us get the ball to him versus coming down and trying to find the ball.”

Vanney then complimented Puig’s style of play, but he would love to see Puig get the ball behind the midfield line and avoid the risk of allowing easy transitions for the opponent.

“When he does drop and play and move and connects at the right speed its very dangerous for the opposition, very difficult to mark, you see Messi do that at times as well,” Vanney said. “It’s finding that balance of sometimes being more patient.”

Injury Notes: Vanney said Martin Caceres is on pace to return to action this week after missing last weekend’s El Trafico due to an injury suffered against Seattle the week prior.

Vanney said Eriq Zavaleta is nearing his return from a concussion sustained in training before El Trafico last week, but he needed to undergo some tests before returning to play.

Another member of the backline, Jalen Neal is nearly set to return to first team action. The 20-year old center back has been sidelined since last July. Vanney said Neal is “probably a week away,” from coming back to the first team. Neal will see 20-30 minutes of action with Ventura County Futbol Club, formerly Galaxy II, with the intention to bring him back the following week.

Saturday’s match at BC Place is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass.