The Vancouver Whitecaps may have ended the regular season with a whimper, but they went out of the playoffs fighting against the LA Galaxy Thursday night at the Home Depot Center, narrowly losing 2-1 to the defending champions through goals from Mike Magee and Landon Donovan.
The loss ends Vancouver’s first-ever postseason run in just the first round, but Darren Mattocks had fans of the Canadian club believing that the impossible could happen at the three minute mark.
The Jamaican international showed excellent awareness in the box to get free of his marker before hitting a fine finish into the bottom right corner of Josh Saunders’ goal.
“His goals probably capitalize on his speed more often than not,” John Thorrington said of Mattocks’ clever move on the goal. “But good finish, great play. We got the ball on the right, shifted it to the left, a couple of passes and opened them up and it was a great ball by Matt [Watson], great finish by Darren.”
Matt Watson made the play on the left side, juking past Héctor Jiménez with ease before cutting back a pass for Mattocks to finish expertly.
“It was huge – it was an eye-opening one for me,” Thorrington said. “Raced past the guy, cut it back – I mean what a time to score, what a way to score. That was part of our gameplan, to get [Watson] running. He’s a powerful runner. We see it in training a lot. But for him to show up in probably the biggest game of his life says a lot about him.”
After the opener, it was bunker down time for 69 minutes, before Mike Magee bagged the equalizer with a top-class volley from a Juninho cross.
“You just chalk it off as another game, another goal of the week,” goalkeeper Brad Knighton said. “Hats off to them, and best of luck.”
Following the match head coach Martin Rennie insisted the early goal didn’t change how the ‘Caps approached the game.
“I think we were looking to do a similar thing anyway, so having a goal just meant that we had something to defend,” Rennie said. “That didn’t really change that too much. Obviously if you score that goal in the 89th minute or the 90th minute it’s a little nicer, but I was more than happy to get the goal.”
Ultimately, the game-winning play happened on a penalty generated by Donovan, who went down under marginal contact from substitute Martin Bonjour, who had only stepped on the field moments before for the injured Jay DeMerit.
“You've got to tip your hat to them,” Knighton said. “Magee finished his chance, and the [penalty] happened. If we finish our chance at the other end and make it 2-0, it’s a whole different ball game. But you got to take the positives from that game.
“The fight was there, the desire was there, and I think that’s something to look forward to for next season.”
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