Top of the table. While it is only five games into the year, the Whitecaps sit first in the league for the first time in their MLS history. Goals from Kekuta Manneh and MLS Player of the Month, Octavio Rivero, propelled the ‘Caps to their fourth win of the season in front of a sold-out crowd at BC Place on Saturday night. The two goals from the young players were all that was needed to defeat the defending champions, LA Galaxy, 2-0.
After a poor performance and lucky win against the Timbers last week, Robinson made two changes to the starting XI, which both paid off in a big way. Returning from the Canadian Men’s National Team’s two wins over Guatemala and Puerto Rico, where he appeared as a substitute in both matches, Russell Teibert replaced Gershon Koffie beside Laba, while Kekuta Manneh replaced Erik Hurtado after returning from suspension and went on to score the winning goal.
The ‘Caps improved in a big way on the field on Saturday, as well. Captain and midfield-maestro, Pedro Morales, seems to have found his form again from last season, setting up numerous goal-scoring opportunities for the Whitecaps. With the help of Morales, the men in white peppered LA keeper, Jamie Penedo, with nine shots on-target with eighteen shots in total. They also improved their possession to 52.1% against the Galaxy, a massive improvement from the 35.3% possession against the Timbers.
With the Whitecaps rounding into form early in the season, it is gearing up to be an exciting year for Carl Robinson’s men.
Vancouver Whitecaps Starting XI and Substitutes:
Unused Substitutes: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Harvey, Tim Parker, Robert Earnshaw
Super Substitutes: Darren Mattocks for Kekuta Manneh (78′), Deybi Flores for Nicolas Mezquida (82′), Erik Hurtado for Octavio Rivero (86′)
Los Angeles Galaxy Starting XI and Substitutes:
Super Substitutes: Robbie Rogers for Mika Vayrynen (40′), Edson Buddle for Todd Dunivant (64′), Alan Gordon for Tommy Meyer (78′)
Unused Substitutes: Brian Rowe, Dan Gargan, Rafael Garcia, Ignacio Maganto
Northern Starting XI Man of the Match:
Fresh off of his one-game suspension, Kekuta Manneh scored his first goal for the Whitecaps since his strike against the Sounders on October 10th, 2014. The goal will certainly boost the confidence of the twenty-year-old Gambian, and further help him round into form as the MLS season continues on. Showcasing his talents and speed again for the ‘Caps, it is unknown how much longer the 2013 SuperDraft pick will be at BC Place with clubs such as Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool already showing interest in him and another great game under his belt yesterday. But for the ‘Caps, Kekuta looks to have cemented his spot in the Starting XI for the foreseeable future.
After a lackluster performance against Portland, the Whitecaps really stepped up against the defending champs. While the goal scorers will get the headlines it was young Canadian midfielder Russell Teibert who was the clear Man of the Match in my eyes. The goals scored by Manneh and Rivero could have easily been cancelled out if Keane or Zardes had a look at goal. Luckily they didn’t and that was due to the relentless Russell Teibert. Never running out of energy, Teibert harassed and stuck to Keane and Zardes all game long, continually breaking up LA attacks. A toe poke here a toe poke there. Russell did his job and more as he provided the Whitecaps with transition passing which lead to the Manneh goal and many other chances.
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