The panic had begun to set in, but the LA Galaxy knotted up the score 1-1 in the Western Conference Wild Card game, via Mike Magee's fantastic volley in the 69th minute. Just five minutes later, Landon Donovan converted a penalty kick to give the Galaxy a 2-1 lead against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Through the first 25 minutes of the second half, the Galaxy had the bulk of possession and chances, but they could not convert any chances. It appeared the officiating style of referee Silviu Petrescu favored the physical play of Vancouver, who were hanging onto a 1-0 lead through 68 minutes. But the Galaxy found the net for the first time in spectacular fashion. David Beckham took a short corner kick from the right side to Juninho, who sent a cross from the edge of the box to Magee, whose volley beat Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton. It appeared the Galaxy could climb back into the game.
Just minutes later, they took the lead, when Donovan earned a penalty from substitute defender Martin Bonjour. The Argentine had replaced Jay DeMerit just a minute earlier, due to an injury, and he collided with Donovan in the Caps' box. Donovan took the penalty himself and converted it without a doubt.
Although they haven't been convincing for much of the night, the Galaxy look to be in control of the match at this point. Vancouver will really need to wrestle possession back in the final 15 minutes of the match if they want to get an equalizer of their own.
An early Darren Mattocks goal is the difference at halftime in the Western Conference Wild Card game, as the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps lead the LA Galaxy 1-0. Although the Galaxy have held the lion's share of possession and had more chances, Vancouver converted their only real chance so far and have been able to hang on for the lead.
The scoring opened in the third minute, when Mattocks received a pass from Matt Watson after beating Hector Jimenez on the flank. Mattocks buried the shot in the far corner on a nifty diagonal shot, and Vancouver took the shock lead.
Over the course of the half, the Galaxy continued to ratchet up the pressure on Vancouver, but could not convert their chances. Perhaps the best chances came from a Robbie Keane shot through traffic that forced a save from Brad Knighton in the 28th minute, and a David Beckham free kick in first half injury time just outside Vancouver's box that was also saved by Knighton.
It appears the second half will probably get more physical, and referee Silviu Petrescu, who only gave out one yellow card in the first half, will likely need to crack down with more whistles and cards. A group of Galaxy players surrounded Petrescu at halftime, and it will be interesting to see if they will channel their frustration or continue to struggle in this match. For Vancouver, they will probably look for another quick goal if they can get a chance, but their task will primarily be to hang on defensively for another 45 minutes.
Well, the Western Conference Wild Card match started very differently than most expected, as Darren Mattocks has put the Vancouver Whitecaps up 1-0 with a goal in just the third minute. On their first foray into the Galaxy's half, Vancouver midfielder Matt Watson tested Galaxy right back Hector Jimenez, filling in for the injured Sean Franklin. Watson beat Jimenez along the left touchline, then made a run to the endline before cutting the ball back into the path of Mattocks. The rookie forward then teed up the diagonal shot, and beat Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders with a perfectly-placed goal.
The shock goal could result in a couple of scenarios. Vancouver could sit on the lead and seek to defend the Galaxy tighter than ever before, in an effort to hang on for the narrow win. The game could also open up, especially if the Galaxy are able to get an equalizer early in the first half. Still, the early goal means that there will likely be plenty of intrigue ahead in this game.