The LA Galaxy knew that they were going to need to be patient against a bunkering Vancouver Whitecaps FC side, but it is doubtful LA knew just how patient they’d need to be to knock off the ‘Caps.
Down a goal in just the third minute after Darren Mattocks put Vancouver ahead, LA found themselves trying to comeback against a Whitecaps side that packed 11 players behind the ball as they sought to hold the lead. The tactics worked for 68 minutes as, despite heavy possession, LA was unable to crack the Whitecaps defensive shell.
But as he has time and time again in the postseason, it was Mike Magee that stepped up to deliver a goal at a critical moment with his 69th minute goal that tied the match. Four minutes later, Landon Donovan slotted home a penalty that gave LA their 2-1 victory and a berth in the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Jose Earthquakes. Although there were a few testy moments as LA tried to claw their way back, LA attest that their concentration never faltered.
“I think the fans were starting to get frustrated with us,” said Magee. “We had to try to break them down, get them out and it showed a lot to our patience and our belief in each other to keep plugging away.”
After struggling in the first half to create dangerous chances on goal due to repeated stops by Whitecaps defenders, LA started to ramp up the pressure in the 52nd minute with the inclusion of Brazilian midfielder Marcelo Sarvas. The Brazilian, who replaced right back Hector Jimenez, applied considerable pressure on Vancouver’s defense from the start, ultimately causing the Whitecaps to attempt to account for him on the field leaving others —like Magee— open to create chances.
And when the chances finally came, LA knew that they could defeat Vancouver.
“Our determination was good and we kept putting them under pressure. We kind of just got the sense that if we were patient then they were going to wear out and sure enough, in the second half, they started opening up a little,” said Donovan. “They couldn’t keep up defending the way that they did in the first half and we were finally able to pick them a part a little bit.”