Whitecaps held by depleted Galaxy at home, settle for draw

Vancouver Whitecaps' goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic, right, collides with teammate Jose Aja, centre, as he attempts to punch the ball away from Los Angeles Galaxy's Chris Pontius, back, while Vancouver's Kei Kamara (23) attempts to get his head on it during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 24, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

VANCOUVER — They controlled the ball, created several good chances and forced the play.

The only thing the Vancouver Whitecaps couldn’t do against the L.A. Galaxy was score, which resulted in the teams playing to a 0-0 draw in a Major League Soccer game Saturday night.

Head coach Carl Robinson said his team did a lot of things well but didn’t have the finish to beat an undermanned Galaxy squad.

"I firmly believe we had enough chances … in the final third," said Robinson. "I don’t think our quality was no where near good enough."

It was a long night for goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic, who faced one dangerous L.A. scoring chance late in the game.

"Those are the toughest type of game for a keeper," said the native of Auckland, New Zealand, who recorded his first clean sheet of the season. "I’m doing nothing for 80 minutes, then all of sudden I had to get my angle right."

The Whitecaps (2-1-1) controlled a majority of the play. The Galaxy were content to play seven players back, fend off the Whitecaps and look for a counter attack.

"We had a couple of good chances," said Marinovic. "We aren’t going to get that many chances with a team this is sitting that deep with so many men behind the ball.

"Unfortunately, we couldn’t convert."

It was a solid road effort for the Galaxy (1-1-1).

"We’re happy," said coach Sigi Schmid. "I thought we did a good job.

"Obviously we were on our heels a little bit at certain times and they were sending in a lot of crosses. But I thought we dealt with it well."

Actor Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor in the Marvel superhero movies, was part of the announced crowd of 22,120 who watched the game at BC Place Stadium. Hemsworth is in Vancouver shooting a movie.

The Whitecaps extended their home undefeated streak to 11 games (6-0-5), a franchise record.

Vancouver striker Kei Kamara and forward Cristian Techera both threatened. Teenaged forward Alphonso Davies was also dangerous, using his speed to move the ball and find openings.

Kamara put on a one-man show in the 71st minute. He ran down a long ball, sliced between two L.A. defenders, then watched goalkeeper David Bingham come out of his net before sending a shot wide. Afterward Kamara lay on his back on the field, arguing he had been fouled.

Techera came close on a free kick in the 61st minute. His left-footed shot from just outside the box went wide and high. In the 37th minute he took a long ball from midfielder Efrain Juarez then sent a shot just over top of the Galaxy net.

The Galaxy’s best chance came from Emmanuel Boateng in the 56th minute. He got behind the Whitecaps defence and waited for Marinovic to charge out of his net before sending his shot wide of the goal.

"The one chance they had it could have bitten us on the bum," said Robinson.

The Galaxy played with a lineup depleted by several players absent due to injury, suspension or international duty. Among the key players missing were brothers Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos, both out with hamstring injuries, and forward Ola Kamara, called up for international duty with Norway.

"Don’t get fooled when they are missing players," said Robinson. "Those players (in the lineup) are fighting for jobs, they are fighting for careers. They come in and work harder."

Marinovic said the Whitecaps didn’t take the Galaxy lightly.

"I think you concentrate even more when you’re playing against maybe the second string of players," he said. "That makes those players even more hungry.

"Players with nothing to lose, they usually play out of their skin."

There were a few anxious moments early in the game when Davies went to ground after colliding with the Galaxy’s Perry Kitchen. Davies lay on the ground for a couple of minutes while the trainer worked on his ankle but returned to action.

It was a physical game. Besides Davies, Kamara also was knocked to the ground a couple of times.

NOTES: The Whitecaps’ last home loss was a 2-1 defeat by Portland on July 23. … Karama was honoured prior to match for scoring his 100th regular-season MLS goal March 10 at Houston. He missed last week’s game with a groin injury. …. Vancouver defender Kendall Waston (Costa Rica) and forward Myer Bevan (New Zealand) were unavailable after being called up for international duty.

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