VANCOUVER — The Galaxy dominated possession but Coach Greg Vanney’s squad could not do much with it, and that proved costly in a battle between Western Conference playoff hopefuls on Wednesday night at BC Place.
Ryan Gauld, Pedro Vite and Tosaint Ricketts scored second-half goals as the Vancouver Whitecaps kept their slim postseason hopes alive with a 3-0 victory over the Galaxy, which saw its six-match unbeaten streak snapped and missed a chance to move into playoff position.
Goalkeeper Thomas Hasal made two save for the Whitecaps (10-14-7, 37 points), who snapped a three-match losing streak and moved within six points of the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with three regular-season games remaining.
The Galaxy (11-12-7, 40 points), which had played to three consecutive draws, is in eighth place, three points behind Real Salt Lake (11-10-10, 43 points) with four matches left and a game in hand on RSL.
The Whitecaps broke a scoreless tie on Gauld’s goal in the 57th minute. Ryan Raposo’s corner kick from the left wing found Tristan Blackmon for an uncontested header from the top of the 6-yard box.
Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond made a sprawling save, with the rebound sitting in front of the net. Galaxy defender Julian Araujo tried to poke the ball away from the goalmouth, but Gauld, who was near the top left of the 6-yard box, was able to get a foot on the clearance and then blasted a low shot just inside the near post.
The Whitecaps doubled their advantage in the 68th minute. They worked the ball down the left wing and Brian White flicked on Luis Martins’ cross to Vite at the far post and he tapped the ball into the open side of the net.
Ricketts put the game away on a breakaway goal in the 86th minute off an assist from Julian Gressel.
The first half was scoreless despite the Galaxy dominating possession (71%) and having a 4-2 edge in shots, but neither team was able to land one on target.
“Our opportunities for the first 60 minutes, we had so much of the ball,” Vanney said. “We played the game in their half of the field. We still are short in turning the possessions into more chances. … Some of the possession needs to become dangerous attacks.
“We’re getting to good spots and turning those good spots into semi-good chances, but then when we’re getting to good chances we’re not finishing those chances properly. And we allow the team to hang around a bit, until we give up one and now we’re on the wrong side of it.”
The Galaxy had the two best chances of the half.
In the sixth minute, Galaxy playmaker Riqui Puig had a pass into the penalty area blocked but the ball came right back to him and his 20-yard shot went just wide of the top right corner of the net.
In the 20th minute, the Galaxy’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez sent a header from the top of the 6-yard box just wide of the left post after a cross from Victor Vazquez.
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“We were in control. We were comfortable all game, I felt like, and then we just let them hang on a bit too long,” Galaxy defender Derrick Williams said. “They get a chance and then they get momentum. They score and we make it difficult for ourselves where we shouldn’t have been in a position at the start. Yeah, really frustrating.”
Bond had three saves for the Galaxy, which hosts the Colorado Rapids (10-12-9, 39 points) – another team in the thick of the playoff chase – on Saturday night.
Has desperation set in?
“We shouldn’t even be in this position,” Williams said. “Today was a perfect example where you dominate the ball, don’t create the chances, they score a goal and then things fall apart. It’s frustrating, but we have to get on with it.
“We’ve got another massive game, the biggest game of the season coming up, and we have to put this one behind us and have this feeling that we’re feeling now and bring it into the game. We’re hurting a bit. Everyone’s like come on, let’s leave it all out there and really go for this game. Our season is on the line now, so we have to do it. If we don’t do it then we don’t deserve it. Let’s go. We’re ready.”