MLS Match Preview: LA Galaxy v. Vancouver Whitecaps

LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps face off for the second time this season Saturday night. For LA, it’s a chance for redemption and revenge. Vancouver dominated their last meeting, 2-0, with second half goals from Kekuta Manneh and Octavio River, at BC Place on April 4, 2015.

Although Vancouver have a two point lead on Galaxy in the standings, they’ve lost three of their last four MLS matches. With the FIFA Women’s World Cup stage set in their home stadium, this is the second match of a five-game road trip. But they aren’t letting that bring their confidence down.

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“We’ve shown that our squad is deep. There’s a good rotation in our squad. Guys can come in and play positions. I don’t think there’s going to be a factor of being tired or anything like that.” – midfielder Russell Teibert.

The last time LA Galaxy and Vancouver met, there was a ‘casualty of epic proportions.’ I exaggerate, but that Robbie Keane groin injury and the following slide for the beloved 5-time MLS Cup winners, was disheartening to witness. This time around, Keane’s back, unsure for how many minutes, or how great his impact will be, however, his leadership is undeniable. As LA’s head coach Bruce Arena puts it,

“For our team, whenever Robbie Keane’s on the field, it makes our team better.”  — Bruce Arena.

With a slew of ongoing international duties for LA’s Gyasi Zardes, Bradford Jameison IV and Jaime Penedo, and with Robbie Rogers playing for LA Galaxy II tomorrow, we’re left with a less-than-optimal lineup for LA Galaxy. Tomorrow also marks a test for Brian Perk who takes up the reigns as goalkeeper in his fourth league start this season and likely many more to come, with Jaime Penedo playing for Panama’s National Team and Brian Rowe out for the remainder of the season. But head coach Bruce Arena is confident in Rowe’s ability to step in: “There’s no reason to believe that he can’t step in and do a good job.”

Alan Gordon is also always at the ready for the challenge, whether it’s as a reserve player or for a full 90-minute game.

Everyone's watch Nacho! LA Galaxy practice photos - June 5, 2015. Photo by Chandrima Chatterjee

Moreover, as Ignacio Maganto’s prowess and experience builds, he is more and more looked upon as a steadily rising figure on the pitch to be counted on for results. His first MLS goal and first goal assist in the match against New England leave him and LA’s fans hungry for more.

With Robbie Rogers absent from the Galaxy midfield tomorrow, Juninho will likely feel the pressure of holding LA’s midfield together, and eyes are on the possibility of LA Galaxy II’s rising star and assist leader in the USL, Raul Mendiola, to make a debut.

History’s on the Galaxy’s side – they’ve won all six past encounters at home against the Whitecaps. But we’ll see. This is a new team and as Bruce Arena likes to point out, every game is a new game, history has little to do with the present.

Game time: June 6, 7:30pm Pacific Time. StubHub Center.

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