In a matchup between the two teams just below the playoff line in the Western Conference, the LA Galaxy earned a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night in front of an announced 25,569 fans in attendance at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
It was not mathematically a must-win for either team, but the “six-point” games mean even more when both sides are desperate for points.
The Galaxy’s starting XI was exactly the same as it was for their 3-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders last week, including the centerback pairing of Dave Romney and Daniel Steres. Last week, Jørgen Skjelvik, the regular starting centerback, was unavailable due to the flu, but this week, it was a coaching decision for him to start on the bench.
The scoring was opened very early in the match, as forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic slotted away a penalty kick in just the 4th minute of play. Vancouver goalkeeper Nicolás Mezquida guessed correctly in his dive to his right, but Ibrahimovic was able to tuck his shot right next to the post and in.
Los Angeles had an inspired first 30 minutes of the match in the movement of the ball in their offensive half of the field. Players seemed to be more comfortable with their overlapping runs and communication than they had been earlier in the season.
In the 37th minute, defender Rolf Feltscher picked up a yellow card caution, causing him to be dealt a suspension due to yellow card accumulation. He will miss the Galaxy’s next match on Oct. 6 at Sporting Kansas City, another game with major playoff implications.
Vancouver looked dangerous as the half was coming to a close. Several shots just missed, including several from Alphonso Davies, the 17 year old Whitecaps player who is set to join Bayern Munich in January 2019. Nonetheless, the half ended 1-0 in favor of the Galaxy.
The second half continued to be leaning toward the Galaxy’s favor, despite increased pressure from Vancouver. Ibrahimovic slotted his second of the evening in the 58h minute, giving him his 502nd and 503rd all-time career goals.
Ibrahimovic maintained his influence on the match in the 75th minute, as he drew a penalty for the Galaxy. Instead of giving Ibra a chance to complete his hat trick, midfielder Romain Alessandrini converted the shot and put the Galaxy ahead 3-0.
The Galaxy were able to maintain their lead, and earn their second consecutive 3-0 victory at home. They now have 44 points and sit just one point behind Real Salt Lake, the first team sitting above the playoff line. The Galaxy will head to face Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 6.