A defensive set piece key as the Whitecaps continue their quest for victory against the Galaxy

By | March 18, 2023

It’s a new week, but the goal remains the same for the Vancouver Whitecaps – earn their first win of the Major League Soccer season.

The Whitecaps (0-2-1) take their quest for points to Southern California on Saturday to take on LA Galaxy (0-1-1), another side looking for their first win of the 2023 campaign.

“Obviously, they’re going to be a good team. They have good players,” said Whitecap striker Brian White.

“They gave us a tough time in LA last year, so it will be important for us to get off on the right foot, build on what we did well in the previous games and try to get a win.”

Vancouver is coming off a midweek game against Real CD Espana in the CONCACAF Champions League. The ‘Caps dropped a 3-2 decision on Wednesday, but went 7-3 overall over the two-game series to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

With a packed schedule, Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini opted to field some of his usual starters in Vancouver for the second leg.

Ranko Veselinovic was among the defenders training with the club’s academy prospects and playing in their team from distance.

“It’s a little weird, to be honest,” he said. “Because (we’re) watching these guys in Honduras, getting ready for a game and we’re staying at home and watching.”

Veselinovic reunited with his teammates in California on Thursday and is expected to face LA, including his longtime friend and fellow Serbian Dejan Joveljic.

The ‘Caps split their season series with the Galaxy last year, dropping a 5-2 decision on the road, blanking the visitors 3-0 at BC Place a month later.

“I think it will be a very different game than last season,” Veselinovic said.

“You never know what to expect in these games, but I think we have to focus on doing a bit better than the previous games. And offensively, we need more opportunities and to score from those opportunities. And I think we’ll get better.”

One area the Whitecaps need to focus more on is defending set plays.

The ‘Caps conceded two goals from a corner kick and a free kick on Wednesday.

Sartini said one area his team was “not good enough” to start the season was set-guarding.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this is our weakest part (of the season),” the coach said.

Sartini added that the Whitecaps will need to be strong defensively and aware of LA’s technical quality to secure a win against the Galaxy.

“What we should do is not chase them,” he said. “If we can stay structured and compact, I think they can be frustrated and they can open up a lot when they defend.”

Vancouver will likely face a loud, hostile atmosphere at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday as the Galaxy play their first home game of the season.

Focusing on their own game instead of what’s going on with their opponents will be key, White said.

“I think it’s a matter of us starting the game strong, not fearing their home opener, not fearing any of the players they have,” he said.

“(We need to) come out and play the style of football we want to play, be intense from the start and when we have the opportunity to finish the game with goals, hopefully take that opportunity.”

Vancouver Whitecaps (0-2-1) LA Galaxy (0-1-1)

Saturday, Dignity Health Sports Park

Recovering: Vancouver is out defender Luis Martins (groin) and midfielder Russell Tebert (ankle) is doubtful. LA forward Javier Chicharito Hernandez (hamstring) and midfielder Douglas Costa (calf) are both expected to miss the game.

Blocked calendar: Saturday will mark the Whitecaps’ fifth game in 14 days across MLS play and CONCACAF action. The busy schedule will continue next month when the ‘Caps face reigning MLS champions Los Angeles FC in the Champions League quarter-finals on April 5 and 11.

Milestone watch: Whitecaps defender Tristan Blackmon could make his 100th MLS appearance. The 26-year-old American spent four seasons with LAFC before being traded to Vancouver ahead of the 2022 campaign.

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper { display: grid; grid-template-columns : return ( 2 , 1fr ); spacing: 20px; }

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a { pointer-events: none; cursor: default; text-decoration: none; Color: Black; }

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *