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Men vs. boys: Galaxy dominates the Whitecaps

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Landon Donovan: Two goals, one assist

Los Angeles Galaxy 4, Vancouver Whitecaps 0

Saturday’s match between the Vancouver Whitecaps (last overall in MLS) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (first overall) played out a lot like a mid-round FA Cup match.

That is, the kind of FA Cup match that pits the Blue Square Premier club, or even a semipro factory team, that made a Cinderella run through the early round having to face one of the Premiership big boys.

First,
the minnows get a large gate, their supporters’ ranks are augmented by a bunch of curious locals who just want to see the big boys come to town. At more than 27,000 fans, the Whitecaps enjoyed their biggest turnout of the season.

Second, the Premiership team, not expecting a massive challenge from the minnows, doesn’t play its first-choice lineup. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena didn’t start his best lineup — not by choice, of course. But the Galaxy didn’t have David Beckham (suspension) or keeper Donovan Ricketts (injury) in the lineup.

Third,
the minnow starts off well, giving its fans the hope that maybe, just maybe, that rare upset is in the cards. An early chance, some nice early possession, just enough to make you think that the big Premiership side isn’t the Big Bad Wolf, after all. The Whitecaps started off well, with Mustapha Jarju missing an early chance, after midfielder Davide Chiumiento played a great ball deep down the left side. Eric Hassli ran onto it and was able to turn and square the ball to Jarju, who hit the ball first time.

Chiumiento, who looked to have a free role behind the strikers, moved around the pitch and was dangerous through the first 30 minutes. When Chiumiento has the ball and can run at defenders, he’s effective. But the more he does that, the more Camilo — moved back to midfield to accommodate Jarju’s move into the starting XI — is phased out of the game.

Fourth,
the big Premiership boys assert their dominance, and crush the minnows’ hopes with a quick series of goals. The hopes that an upset is in the cards is quickly dashed, as the Premiership giants show just how wide the gulf is between them and the upstarts from the lower leagues.

The Whitecaps held out till the hour mark. But, once they were breached, the house came tumbling down.

Tumbling down was an ironic choice of words. The goal came after Whitecaps defender Michael Boxall lost his footing on the artificial turf, which allowed Landon Donovan to run towards goal unopposed, and finish smartly over keeper Joe Cannon.

Twelve minutes later, another error from a fullback gifted Donovan another goal — this time from the penalty spot. Left back Jordan Harvey moved his arm into a long ball that was played into the penalty area. And what was a speculative long ball was turned into goal No. 2 when Donovan slammed the ball home.

Then, in the 80th, Donovan dashed down the left side, and fired a low cross that a sliding Sean Franklin got to and directed over the line. Harvey was a split-second too late.

In the space of about 20 minutes, Vancouver was scored upon three times.

And, when the little-used Adam Cristman scored at the end, beating a confused back line to a ball in the air, then looping a header over an out-of-position Cannon — well, the big boys made the minnows look like, well, part-timers.

For the Whitecaps, there is no surprise in being dismantled by the Galaxy. But there is sorrow is how clearly it followed a sad and predictable script.

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